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Women and the Olympics 2012

The London Olympics and whether the site design and facilities have taken women into account will be the key theme of an upcoming conference on gender issues and the 2012 Games at Queen Mary, University of London.

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Run by the London Women and Planning Forum, (LWPF) ‘London Olympics: what’s in it for women?’ will take place on Wednesday 6 July with contributions from a panel of sport and design industry experts and academics.

“We will discuss whether women athletes and spectators have been considered when designing and building the competition facilities, and if the organisers are succeeding in their aim to raise the profile of women’s sport,” explains Alison Blunt, Professor of Geography at Queen Mary, and Chair of LWPF.

Speakers include:

  • Selina Mason, Director of Design Integration at the Olympic Park Legacy Company (OPLC)
  • Rimla Akhtar, Chair of the Muslim Women’s Sport Foundation
  • Tim Woodhouse, Head of Policy and External Affairs, at Women’s Sport and Fitness Foundation
  • Dr Jayne Caudwell, Senior Lecturer, Chelsea School, University of Brighton
  • Dr Louise Mansfield, Senior Lecturer, Department of Sport Science, Tourism and Leisure, Canterbury Christ Church University

The event will also ask if the Olympic boroughs have increased the number of women-friendly sporting venues, as encouraging more women to participate in exercise and sport is a big ambition of the Olympic legacy. Rimla Akhtar will focus on the participation of Muslim women in sport, and the extent to which the London Olympics will meet their specific needs.

“Less than one in five women currently do enough sport or physical activity to benefit their health, with forecasts predicting that participation will fall even further in the next ten years,” explains Tim Woodhouse.

“The Olympic and Paralympics 2012 represent a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to improve the supply of sport and activity to women and girls as well as inspire them to be more active.

“With the eyes of the world upon us, it is vital that we take this opportunity to put plans and structures into place to get the legacy right.”

The event will also examine how women’s safety been addressed in designing the Olympic park and its transport routes.

“On a practical level, major public events rarely provide enough toilets for women, so will provision be enough at the Olympics,” asks Wendy Davies of LWPF.

“These gender issues are important, but sidelined because they are trivialised by society and women do not complain enough, consequently male-centric design continues to prevail,” Wendy adds.

Event: London Olympics: what’s in it for women?

Date: Wednesday 6 July

Time: 1.30pm to 5.30pm

Venue: Arts Lecture Theatre, Queen Mary, University of London, Mile End Road, E1 4NS

The event is free, but places should be booked online at, or by emailing


The London Women and Planning Forum is an information network for planning officers, architects, academics, students and community and voluntary organisations involved with urban environment and gender equality issues.

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