By XAN VARMUZA, founder of Sportside
You don’t often mention the medical journal Lancet and Strictly Come Dancing in the same breath. But this week they both offer clues in tackling the gender gap crisis engulfing sport across the world.
One of the largest global surveys ever conducted into physical activity among schoolchildren shows four out of five do not get enough exercise.
The Lancet report, which studied 1.6million youngsters , said the alarming figure is not down to personal choice – but rather a lack of opportunity.
While activity among boys is improving, among young girls it has remained unchanged since 2001.
When it comes to sport, the gap between genders is growing.
The reports says: “Urgent action is needed now, particularly through targeted interventions to promote and retain girls’ participation in physical activity.”
One glimmer of hope is evidence that role models such as USA footballer Megan Rapinoe or former England (and Strictly star) Alex Scott do make a difference.
The study says: “The visibility and creation of more active female role models can positively influence girls’ decisions and participation.
“Social marketing campaigns combined with community-based interventions should be starting points.”
You just need to look at the success of This Girl Can campaign in 2015, launched in response to a survey which showed two million fewer women than men play sport in the UK .
It did narrow that the gender gap but as the Lancet report demonstrates, too many young girls are still missing out.
The world needs more role models like Alex.