A new framework to help guide sports and community organisations towards achieving equality was launched last week at a conference in London. The Equality Standard: A Framework for Sport will assist organisations in developing structures and processes, assessing performance and ensuring continuous improvement in equality.
The Standard is a collaboration of the four home country sports councils and UK Sport, and is supported by the Central Council of Physical Recreation, the English Federation of Disability Sport, Sporting Equals and the Women’s Sports Foundation.
The launch of the Standard took place at the Equality and Sport Conference and was supported by the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport, Tessa Jowell, who said: "By the age of 18, 40% of girls have dropped out of sport altogether; there’s no point in clinging to sentimental views of the past. We have to accept the world has changed and in the modern world people want quality and choice."
Although the success of the British Paralympic team in Athens this summer was inspirational – Great Britain came second in the medals table behind China, winning 94 medals including 35 gold – the General Household Survey 2002 reveals participation rates in sport by adults with a limiting, long-standing illness were worryingly low – all below 10%.
Similar concerns were expressed regarding inclusion of ethnic minorities in sport; Pakistani and Bangladeshi, Indian and Black Caribbean groups revealed very low participation levels at only 18%, 26%and 25% respectively.
The cost to the nation’s health was highlighted with the revelation that 22% of men and 23% of women are obese – numbers that have trebled since the 1980s – and the role that sport can play in minimising the damage to life and society.
The new Standard seeks to address these issues, as Sue Campbell, Chair of UK Sport, explained: "The Equality Standard will provide the framework and thrust for UK Sport and our partners to engage, involve, promote and develop people from all sectors in society as athletes, coaches, officials, administrators and leaders in sport."