Facts and figures: Women in sport

The world of women’s sports is undergoing a game-changing transformation, capturing unprecedented attention and recognition.  

The Paris Olympics will be the most gender-equal in history. This milestone is a testament to the relentless efforts and remarkable achievements of women athletes who are breaking records, shattering stereotypes, and inspiring future generations.   

Join us as we delve into the strides made toward gender equality on and off the field.

Girls and sport 

Media and women in sport

Pay, prize money, and sponsorship deals 

Violence against women and girls in sport 

  • Women and girls experience violence across sport settings and environments and in various roles, including as athletes, coaches, reporters, therapists, referees, and fans. 
  • While efforts to track such cases are increasing worldwide, there are data gaps regarding the magnitude and prevalence of violence in sports. Nevertheless, available research, anecdotal evidence and accounts of real-life experiences highlight that women and girls from all cultures face violence in sport settings, ranging from harassment to sexual assault. 
  • When the Spanish Women’s National Team claimed their trophy after winning the 2023 FIFA Women’s World Cup, and one player endured an unwanted kiss from the President of the national football federation that official was suspended for three years by FIFA. The moment set off a movement in support of the women’s team and raised global awareness of the prevalence of such abuse in women’s sports. The case against the perpetrator is still being litigated in Spain. Abuses that players had complained about for years were never taken seriously until they were on display for the world to see. 
  • Safeguards designed to shield female athletes from sexual and psychological abuse are underfunded and frequently ineffective or are ignored altogether. While other well-resourced sport integrity measures tend to focus on curbing doping and match-fixing.
  • Nearly 21 per cent of professional women athletes have experienced sexual abuse as a child in sport – almost double the rate of male athletes at 11 per cent.  
  • Widely publicised recent scandals have involved gymnastics, figure skating, swimming, synchronised swimming, soccer/football, basketball, water polo and taekwondo.
  • Sports organisations have too often tried to cover up harassment and abuse to protect their reputations, as was the case with US Gymnastics. Due to the courage of survivors, they succeeded in securing a guilty verdict with multiple life sentences after decades of abuse by the team doctor.   

Online harassment and abuse

Women in leadership roles in sport 

[These facts and figures were compiled and revised in July 2024] 

Originally published on UN Women.