Identifying the Key Influencing Factors to Women’s Participation in Sport in Order to Take Concrete Actions

“An analysis of the associations subsidised by the City of Geneva reveals that 70% of the resources allocated are used by men.”

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Study conducted by the City of Geneva – Switzerland

As part of its commitment to gender equality, the City of Geneva has conducted a study on the factors influencing women’s sports practices in Geneva. The purpose of this study was to develop recommendations which should make it possible to steer the City’s sports offer towards women’s expectations.

Methodology

The study was carried out between January 2016 and January 2017 following the below methodology:
• An analysis of existing data,
• An online questionnaire, to which more than 1,600 women living in Geneva responded.
• Focus-group interviews (8 focus-groups, 37 participants),
• A series of sports equipment observations,
• Interviews with key players in the network (18 interviews).

Key figures from the survey conducted amongst women

84% of the women who responded to the survey said they participate in sport. Those declaring not having any sporting activity are predominantly aged between 26 and 45 years old and represent all socio-professional categories. Only 12% of them said they do not want to do sport anymore.

75% of the women who responded to the survey said they had to reduce or suspend their sports activities at some point in their lives. The main reasons for this decision are respectively children/family/pregnancy (41.2%), work (18.5%), lack of time (10.8%) or health problems (10.1%).

30% of the women who responded to the survey said that they had witnessed comments or sexist acts, 26% had actually experienced sexist acts. This proportion rises to 53% among female students.

43% of the women who responded to the survey believe that women’s sport benefits from same benefits than men’s sport.

35% of the women who responded to the survey generally prefer non-mixed sports.

Analysis of the city’s sports facilities

An initial analysis of the membership by gender of the associations subsidised by the City of Geneva reveals that 70% of the resources allocated to subsidised sporting activities are used by men. Thus:
• More men are receiving public aid through the following channels of their sports association or club.
• The majority of men’s sporting activities are subsidised to a greater extent than predominantly female sporting activities.
• Men benefit from 3 to 10 times more activity offers than women.

Finally, the study highlights that there is a general lack of an evaluation system of the sports policies from the point of view of gender inequalities, which would pass through the collection of gendered data and statistics by the City and its partners.

Factors influencing women’s participation in sport

The report shows that the amount of time dedicated to sport is similar to men’s and that women tend to favour non-organised sporting activities (running, cycling, swimming) or private structures (fitness, yoga) than associative structures.

The survey highlights different types of constraints that influence practices women’s sports in Geneva:

Structural constraints: Lack of time, family constraints, financial costs, physical health are the first impediments mentioned by women. The link between professional and private life, especially family life, often leaves little time available for sports activities.

Specific obstacles: Women’s sporting practices are less varied than men’s ones and require equipment that is not always found at close to home. This difficulty in finding a sporting activity aligned with women’s preferences and habits within a restricted perimeter complicates their practice of certain sports or directs them towards a private offer which can be expensive.

Problems related to gender stereotypes: pressure on women’s bodies, feelings of inferiority, sexism, harassment. Free sport in the city (walking, running, cycling) also comes up against factors limiting the presence of women in the public space.

Five key priorities developed by the City of Geneva based on the study’s results

On the basis of the recommendations of the study, the City of Geneva developed an action plan axed on five core pillars:

1. Families: Develop a pilot project for simultaneous sports activities for adults and their children (2018-2020) and a pilot project for childcare (2021-2025).

2. Awareness-raising: Integrate the opportunity to raise awareness among young people and partners within existing programmes; Encourage girls to participate in urban sports; Organise a Forum on women’s sport.

3. Encourage the practice of sport by women in the city: Develop a pilot project for a sports itinerary in the City that is safe.

4. Statistics: Collect gender-disaggregated data on attendance at infrastructure and sports activities. Perform regular analysis on the data collected.

5. Fight against discrimination: Fight against sexism through communication to the general public in sports venues.

The interdepartmental working group responsible for monitoring the survey is being renewed and has been mandated to work on the implementation of the survey results. A group of experts in women’s sport will be set up to accompany and participate in the working group’s discussions. In doing so, the City will be able to count on the expertise of specialists in women’s sport issues and women directly concerned.