Manchester United Women's first manager Casey Stoney has welcomed a new Federation of Ireland campaign around women's sport as it will force those involved in Irish sport to take action.

RTÉ Sport are delighted to be media partners on the new 20x20 campaign that seeks to increase participation, media coverage and attendances at women's sport by 20% by 2020.

Championed by the country's national governing bodies and local sports partnerships, 20x20 wants all those involved in Irish sport and physical activity to get behind female sport in a concerted effort.

Retired England international Stoney was the keynote speaker at this morning's launch, which was hosted by RTÉ's Evanne Ní Chuilin, and afterwards she told RTÉ Sport how she wished England would follow Ireland's lead and establish such a campaign as it leaves those involved no wiggle room when it comes to taking action on women's sport.

"It gives you absolutely no grey areas. You have got to action something, because we all talk. We do a lot of talking but we need to do something today and something tomorrow. We need to make sure businesses are investing, sponsors are coming on board and broadcasters are making a difference," said Stoney.

"Sport provides such incredible opportunities. As a young girl I was told that football was just for boys and yet, I went on to play 130 times for England including at World Cups, European Championships and even representing GB at the London 2012 Olympics.

"It is so important that girls and women have role models to whom they can relate. It is for this reason that I was so excited and delighted to get the opportunity to come and lend my support for the launch of 20x20. I believe if supported by all involved in sport it really could be a landmark moment for sport in this country," she added.

"I would love an initiative like this across in England because it makes people stand up and do things."

Sarah Keane, chief executive of Swim Ireland and the president of the Olympic Federation of Ireland believes the campaign can flourish in conjunction with the imminent launch of the women in sport programme.

"We have been doing a lot of talking about things," Keane told RTÉ Sport. "Great to see [Sport Ireland CEO] John Treacy here because I am on that Women in Sport advisory group and we need to see that policy launched in January or February. We need a vision for this, we need a budget.

"The report is done, we have had discussions, there will be a strategy and it will be launched next year and adopted by the Sport Ireland board next year," said Keane. "There is €1m extra guaranteed by government next year and it has been ringfenced for that purpose."

Research done on behalf of Along Came a Spider, the agency that developed the 20x20 campaign, has revealed the stark reality for women's sport in Ireland and globally.

  • New campaign-specific research by Nielsen shows just 3% of sport’s print coverage and 4% of sport’s online coverage is dedicated to women’s only sport whilst less than 20% of all sport on TV features sport relating to either women only or mixed sport
  • 50% of global population is female yet only 0.4% of global sponsorship spend is directed towards women's sport
  • Gap between female and male participation is narrowing but lack of visibility contributes to a shortage of role models that are key to greater participation

Irish female sporting heroes, Louise Quinn (Irish International & Arsenal Footballer and Three’s Ambassador for 20x20), Sarah Rowe (Mayo senior footballer and Lidl’s ambassador for 20x20), Laura Twomey (Dublin senior camogie player and AIG’s ambassador for 20x20) as well as Irish professional golfers Leona Maguire (KPMG’s ambassador for 20x20) and Stephanie Meadow (Investec’s ambassador for 20x20), joined forces with Stoney, to lend their support to the 20x20 campaign.