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Celebrating disabled women’s activity on International Women’s Day

Sunday 8 March is International Women’s Day. Activity Alliance believes every woman deserves the right to take part in the way they wish to. But research shows us that many disabled women are missing out on the lifelong benefits of sport and physical activity. Our work engages a range of local and national organisations across various sectors to ensure all disabled children and adults have more choice. Here, we celebrate disabled women’s activity stories.

Goz and Lloyd dancing

For more than 20 years, we have produced a number of training opportunities, engagement resources and awareness campaigns. These support professionals responsible for getting more of our population active. Our guidance enables them to improve their offers and include more people with impairments and long-term health conditions.

This year, International Women’s Day's theme is #EachForEqual: An equal world is an enabled world. It's about wider public or personal contribution to help forge a better working world - a more gender inclusive world. Sport and activity organisations can support this movement.

Statistics show the gaps in activity:

  • There are more disabled women than men in the UK. 23% of women are disabled compared to 20% of men.[i]
  • 5 million fewer women are physically active each week compared to men. Women with hearing, visibility or mobility impairments are the most inactive. Inactivity is more prevalent among disabled women (44%) than non-disabled women (22%). Furthermore, it increases sharply as the number of impairments an individual has increases.[ii] This is important because almost three quarters of all disabled people (74%) have two or more impairments. [iii]
  • 7 in 10 disabled people report wanting to do more sport[iv]

The benefits: Sam's story

In our Me Being Active series, we hear from fitness instructor Sam, who has cerebral palsy. Sam loves to dance, so when the opportunity to become a Zumba and Clubbercise instructor came up, she jumped at the chance. Now, she is a master trainer and supports other disabled people to become instructors too.

“It's important to stay active, because it really helps to keep your muscles loose. It does help with everyday living. For any disabled person, it's important to stay active, because it really helps to keep your muscles loose. It does help with everyday living. I'm trying to educate them to realise the actual true benefits of exercise. When I work out, I get really happy. If I get really stressed, I go to a Zumba class. Everyone loves that party atmosphere in Zumba. Simple dance moves, where you can let your hair down.”

Watch Sam’s Me Being Active video

Achieving goals: Shay’s story

In our Ten Principles in Action video series we hear from teenager Shay. She loves how climbing has made her feel.

“When I first started climbing I couldn’t even get on the wall, I couldn’t even climb but now I can get to the top. Paul has really helped me a lot. I feel braver now.”

Watch Shay’s video.

For more information on our Ten Principles visit

Challenging perceptions: Goz’s story

The first phase of our #WhoSays campaign heard from dancers Goz and Lloyd who feature in the campaign films. Goz has been dancing with Lloyd for a number of years now.

“In order for society to be more inclusive we need to change people’s perceptions. We have come across people being surprised that we dance together, and then ask how do we dance together. A few people can’t get their head around that dancing with each other can be done. It’s the perception that things can only be done one way, but there are several ways it can be done.
“In order for society to be more inclusive we need to change people’s perceptions. Disabled people are not just this one dimensional person who’s disabled – we can do anything we want to.”

Read Goz’s story.

Engaging more disabled women

Our ‘Engaging all Women in Sport and Activity’ resource is created in partnership with Women in Sport. For sport and activity providers, it encourages you to think about the ways to include more disabled women.

Read our Engaging all Women in Sport and Activity’ resource.

Join the conversation and show your support for International Women’s Day on social media. Use #IWD2020 and #EachForEqual. Find out more about International Women’s Day.

[i] DWP Family Resources Survey 2016-2017

[ii] Active People Survey 10

[iii] Office for Disability Issues and Department for Work and Pensions, Life Opportunities Survey

[iv] Lifestyle Survey 2013, Activity Alliance