THE BLOG

How Women Are Making a Bigger Impact in Sport and Beyond

31/07/2014 16:05 BST | Updated 30/09/2014 10:59 BST

PE lessons at school were always an excuse to have a tummy ache! My adult daughter used to moan about how strict the teacher was and that she didn't want to jump over the horse more than once!

Sports didn't excite her like it did the boys and getting dirty in the mud playing football wasn't on her agenda.

However, the Duke Of Edinburgh Award Scheme has been recruiting many young girls as well as boys for sweaty activities. Whilst they enjoy the challenges including physical skills and expeditions it gives them adventure, builds confidence and inspires them with purposeful life experiences.

My friend's teenage daughter is about to complete the bronze stage and told me it's been a great bonding experience. The walks are long and tiring, she told me, but satisfying when she reaches the destination. She loves the fact she's getting fitter!

The girls are all very conscious about how they look - which can become an obsession. Having a focus like doing an award or becoming part of a sports team helps girls look at options beyond contemplating who looks better and slimmer.

Times have changed and girls as young as eight are becoming more conscious of their body image. Encouraging more physical activity can give them opportunities to look at things beyond worrying about their hair and make-up.

Listening to a recent episode of Women's Hour on Radio 4, I was inspired to hear them talking about confidence in sport. Whilst broadcasting from Glasgow at the Commonwealth Games the Scottish Minister for Sport Helen Grant pointed out how popular women's football is becoming - along with swimming, boxing and cricket.

England's male football team may not have got to the World Cup final, but the women's team is doing extremely well.

Sky Sports and the BBC are covering women's sport more - though it's disappointing to see the lack of coverage from many newspapers. It would be great to get everyone on board.

The growth in women's sport coincides with more females making it higher up in the business world and politics.

British Prime Minister David Cameron sees the huge potential of more women in government, having promoted many of them in his pre-election reshuffle.

This was a clear case of out with the men and in with the women!

It is wonderful to see women continue to grow in different fields.

When working on Sky Television I presented a feature on women's boxing. At the time I was surprised how many women were at the boxing gym we visited.

Having stepped into the ring myself with boxing gloves I felt the energy, excitement and adrenalin of hitting the pad my instructor was holding. It was fun and exhilarating.

Since then women's boxing has become a very popular sport. With Nicola Adams being the number one women's boxer, it's had a huge effect on encouraging more young women to take up this sport.

A client of mine was inspired by the film Bend It Like Beckham. An eighteen-year-old girl was infatuated by football. Her parents were against it, but she was determined to play. She joined a women's team which went to the top of the league. This did her confidence and self-esteem a power of good and greatly enhanced her social skills.

Coming from a background of health, fitness, fashion and beauty, I'm very aware of how much sports and image can play a vital role.

Encouraging participation in sport in all areas can lead to happier, healthier women.

Mothers, aunts and family friends can all be role models for girls. Guiding them gently into a positive mindset by talking about sport and other physical exercise helps them feel good about being involved.

Many women are also coming to realise that they don't have to look perfect while exerting themselves.

Most women will strive to look their best, but they don't need perfect hair-do and make-up for every occasion.

When I first started teaching aerobic classes at the David Lloyd Clubs, the women used to arrive fully made up with not a hair out of place! They soon realised that pampering themselves before the hot sweaty work-out wasn't advisable and felt a lot more liberated without make-up and hair beautifying beforehand!

By inspiring and encouraging young girls and women to get involved in more sport, to eat well and feel healthy, they'll be better placed to succeed not only in sport but in business, politics and other fields as well.

Women are making more impact on the sports fields and off.

PE lessons may have improved since my daughter's school days, but women can do with more acceptance and support to make an even more fabulous impact.