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This Girl Can With You launches

Our campaign will work with more partners than ever before to help cut the enjoyment gap and inspire more women to be physically active.

28th February 2023

This Girl Can has moved into a new phase of its mission to inspire more women and girls to take part in sport and physical activity.

Our award-winning campaign has launched ‘This Girl Can With You’ – a call to arms to the sector to break down the barriers that mean women remain less likely to be physically active than men.

The new phase will focus on breaking down the enjoyment gap that exists between men and women as our research has shown that 2.4 million fewer women than men strongly agree they find sport and exercise enjoyable and satisfying.

The Enjoyment Gap

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,” said Kate Dale, our director of marketing.

“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).

A group of women out for a jog

The brand-new This Girl Can website has tools, tips and ideas for organisations to get started, with the insight building upon the brilliant work that many grassroots organisations and activity providers are already delivering to close the gap.

“From safety issues to heightened anxiety fuelled by the cost-of-living crisis, the barriers faced by women and girls in 2023 loom large and are deeply embedded in our society,” added Kate.  

“This is a call to arms. 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.

“There are already organisations out there doing brilliant things, and we want to spread the word and have more people join us. With you, This Girl Can can close the Enjoyment Gap.”

Nicola Adams, the first female boxer to become a double Olympic gold medallist, is supporting the campaign and says she can understand why there is an enjoyment gap between men and women.

“I was called all kinds of names as a female boxer and even remember being regularly told to take up another sport or a different career,” she explained. “It’s no wonder there’s such a significant enjoyment gap in the number of women enjoying exercise, compared with men.

“These days, sport and fitness remain an integral part of my routine. I still train most days because it helps me feel good in myself and destress – and I’m a big advocate of encouraging women and girls to make sure they get active too, in whatever way works for them.”

"We want to spread the word and have more people join us. With you, This Girl Can can close the Enjoyment Gap.”

Kate Dale

Director of marketing, Sport England

Backed by research

Our research has found there are a wide range of practical and emotional barriers preventing women from getting active.

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 issues, such as being mugged.

The barriers were deepened by the disruptions of the pandemic, with women slower to return to activity than men. Over a million fewer women now feel they have the opportunity to be physically active compared to pre-Covid-19. More recently, the rising cost of living has become a barrier, with over a third (37%) of women saying it has had a negative impact on their ability to be active.

Launched in 2015, to tackle the gender activity gap, This Girl Can is a campaign and movement by Sport England, funded by The National Lottery. It empowers women and girls of all shapes, sizes and sporting abilities by showing them that there is no 'right' way to get active.

This Girl Can has more than 700,000 supporters in its community and is now inviting more organisations to join the next phase of the campaign, with a new website for partners and supporter’s toolkit.

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