Dáil Éireann - Volume 626 - 26 October, 2006
Written Answers. - Sport and Recreational Development.
Mr. Gilmore Mr. Gilmore
 Mr. Gilmore asked the Minister for Arts, Sport and Tourism his views on the 2006 Women in Sport Initiative launched recently by the Irish Sports Council; the funding provided for projects under this scheme; the barriers to increased participation in sport by women here; the efforts he is making to address same; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [34808/06]
Mr. O’Donoghue Mr. O’Donoghue
Mr. O’Donoghue:There is a need to increase the level of women’s participation in sport and physical activity, as less than one in five women come close to achieving what the World Health Organisation deems to be the minimum levels of physical activity necessary for good health. Research by the Economic and Social Research Institute into participation rates indicated that 25% of women participate in sport regularly, compared to 41% of men. In order to address this problem, I provided a special budget of €750,000 in 2005 for the Irish Sports Council to introduce programmes specifically targeted at women.
In view of the success of the first year of the programme, I decided to increase the level of funding three-fold to €2.25m in 2006. At my request, there were special allocations made to both Basketball Ireland and Cumann Peil Gael na mBan as sports that have many women involved. This year, €370,000 was allocated to Basketball Ireland to build on its Regional Development Officer network and support its European Year of Women’s Basketball. Cumann Peil Gael na mBan received €314,606 to assist in the implementation of its Strategic Plan and to build on the success of its pilot programmes in 2005.
In addition to the specific allocations made to these two National Governing Bodies (NGBs), and consistent with last year’s Women in Sport programme, all of the NGBs were contacted by the Sports Council and asked to submit projects to increase the participation of women and attract new members to their sport. As a result, the Irish Sports Council allocated €1,238,561 to 20 projects under the 2006 NGB Women in Sport Grant Scheme and €193,524 to projects submitted by 15 Local Sports Partnerships (LSPs). In total, grant funding for Women in Sport has reached €2,052,085 in 2006.
As well as funding these projects, the Irish Sports Council developed a new Women in Sport Logo and a Women in Sport website. The Women in Sport website — www.womeninsport.ie — showcases all the initiatives, informs women as to when events will be on in their areas, contains links to other sites where women can find participation opportunities, provides information on fitness and invites women to send in their stories and photographs to be featured on the website. NGBs and  LSPs are also encouraged to use the website to promote events or initiatives that they are organising for women and provide all contact links necessary for becoming involved.
An Ezine has also been created to which women can subscribe, which highlights upcoming events, features interesting articles from the website, highlights the profiles of women involved in sport in all capacities and gives updates on initiatives available to women in their locality. Merchandise has also been created incorporating the new logo to raise the profile of the brand and this will be featured and distributed at selected events for the remainder of the year. In the context of the allocation of funds under the 2006 Sports Capital Programme priority for funding was given to applications where it was clear that the provision of a facility was specifically to attract more women into sporting activity.
I accept that several barriers to women’s increased participation in sport remain, including lack of interest, time constraints, competing social responsibilities and lack of masters/veteran opportunities. By continuing to invest in the Women in Sport initiative, this Government is specifically targeting women and ensuring that the necessary resources are in place for the Irish Sports Council to raise awareness among women of the sporting opportunities available to them and to encourage their participation in sporting activities. I am confident that we will be able to reduce the barriers and to increase the numbers of women enjoying regular physical activity.
Dáil Éireann 626 Written Answers. Sport and Recreational Development.