Sport England’s award-winning campaign to help women get active, ‘This Girl Can’ launches in Liverpool kick-starting efforts to get more women exercising regularly and enjoying sport.
A recent study from Sport England found 2.4 million fewer women than men strongly agree they find sport and exercise enjoyable and satisfying. With enjoyment one of the biggest motivators for people to take part in sport and physical activity – and with less than 60% of women active compared to over 63% of men, closing the Enjoyment Gap is an important step towards tackling the stubborn gender activity gap.
The findings have led to This Girl Can moving into a new phase of its campaign, ‘This Girl Can With You’, which got underway in Liverpool this week, with a networking event at The Florrie on Mill Street, bringing together key local decision makers, anchor organisations and physical activity providers.
With Mayor Joanne Anderson in attendance and chaired by Radio City’s Leanne Campbell, the event attracted organisations from across the region, and included talks from Abigail Mobey, a This Girl Can ambassador, Kelly Barton from VISPA (Visually Impaired Sport and Physical Activities) Liverpool – and the Pocklington Trust and Amy Crees of This Girl Can.
Attendees also got the chance to hear about the brilliant work being done to empower and support women in Liverpool by organisations including 4Wings, Torus Foundation, Mamafit UK, and Women on Bikes.
And as well as a productive networking session, the launch event also included a discussion of the practical and emotional barriers preventing women from getting active – with some startling data shared by This Girl Can.
The campaign’s Research found one in three (33%) women say they feel too tired or don’t have enough energy to be physically active; 29% don’t feel motivated enough, and 31% say they don’t have enough time.
Fear of judgement prevails, with key concerns for women including worries about not being fit enough (41%), what other people think of them (32%), showing their body (31%), being on their period (24%) and wearing tight clothing (20%). Over a third (38%) of women say they have felt judged when exercising.
Safety fears are another significant barrier to women enjoying exercise. More than one in five (22%) say they’re concerned about sexual harassment when doing sport and physical activity, a statistic that almost doubles (41%) when outdoors in the dark. Three in 10 have experienced harassment first-hand while exercising, mostly on streets and in parks. Two-thirds (66%) worry about other personal safety.
This Girl Can has identified four action areas with the power to close the Enjoyment Gap.
Activities for women must be Social (help women feel part of a community), Suitable (meet women’s needs), Self-Affirming (help women feel confident) and Safe (women must feel physically and emotionally safe when taking part).
‘This Girl Can With You’ will help organisations across the local sport and physical activity sector develop solutions in response to the four action areas.
The plan locally is to harness the determination and best practice on show at the launch and build momentum across the city to ensure women throughout Liverpool have the opportunity to enjoy getting active.
Mayor of Liverpool, Joanne Anderson said:
“Liverpool has supported Sport England since 2015 in promoting the national This Girl Can programme, and we continue to collaborate with an amazing network of local providers to offer opportunities to get and stay active and support the health and wellbeing of women and girls in the city.
“Research shows that the pandemic and cost-of-living crisis have had a disproportionate impact on women, meaning they have less to spend on weekly budgets and less time to spend on themselves. As a result, their activity levels have fallen.
“Work is needed to close this gap, with a focus on making activity more safe, social, self-affirming and suitable for women. We want to ensure women and girls feel safe and empowered to take part in any activities they want to, so are now looking at links between Liverpool This Girl Can and Liverpool’s VAWG (Violence Against Women and Girls) strategy.
“As part of this phase of the campaign, we will reshape women’s experiences, make activity more inclusive and challenge one another to act on women’s needs.”
Kate Dale, Director of Marketing at Sport England, commented:
“Women deserve to get active as much as men; we want all women to benefit from the physical, mental and social rewards of an active life.
“The barriers faced by women and girls in 2023 loom large and are deeply embedded in our society. So we are rallying the sport and activity industry to join us to close the Enjoyment Gap by making sure activities for women are social, suitable, self-affirming and safe.”
This Girl Can ambassador, Kelly Barton from VISPA Liverpool said:
“I am blind and at the age of 40 I had never done any sport or physical activity, but I wanted to get fit.
“At the time, my GP had trained as a guide runner and offered to guide me at my local parkrun and that’s how it all started for me. I went on to do 10K’s and half marathons before eventually doing the London Marathon (something that I never thought I would be capable of achieving).
“It doesn’t matter what your age, ability or fitness level is, there’s always a sport you can try and it doesn’t matter at what level. Getting involved in sports has improved my own wellbeing and has made me feel so much more confident in other areas of my life.”
To learn more about This Girl Can Liverpool, visit www.thisgirlcanliverpool.co.uk
To learn more about The Enjoyment Gap and This Girl Can, visit www.thisgirlcan.co.uk