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This Girl Can campaign expanded to tackle barriers

Fear of judgement is one of the main barriers preventing more women and girls from playing sport and being active (Image: Sport England)

This Girl Can – the campaign to inspire more women and girls to take part in sport and physical activity – has moved into “a new phase”.

The award-winning campaign, first introduced in 2015, has expanded its mission with the launch of This Girl Can With You. With the new tagline, the campaign will focus on breaking down the barriers that mean women remain less likely to be physically active than men.

According to Sport England research, 2.4 million fewer women than men currently find sport and exercise enjoyable and satisfying.

When it comes to the practical and emotional barriers preventing women from getting active, 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%).

More than 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 issues, such as being mugged.

Kate Dale, Sport England’s director of marketing, says that, as enjoyment is one of the biggest motivators for people to take part in sport and physical activity, closing the “enjoyment gap” is an important step towards closing the gap in participation levels.

“The exercise enjoyment gap is yet another inequality between women and men,” Dale said.

“It can be too easy to accept things as the way they are; to not challenge the status quo. That’s not what This Girl Can is about. We exist to get women active – and that means we’re here to shout about the enjoyment gap. 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.”

This Girl Can With You will support organisations across the sport and physical activity sector to develop solutions in response to four action areas.

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).

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