The 2018 federal budget was recently released. (It’s actually a very user-friendly and readable document and I would encourage you to check it out.) Of interest to me (and, hopefully, you!), there is a significant contribution and specific reference to women and girls in sport.
What has me particularly excited is the commitment to gender equality. The government has committed to achieving gender parity in participation, at all levels. From young girls, to amateur leagues, to professionals, and into life-long participation of seniors, the government wants to see women and girls participating. There’s a good chance that you – my reader – is a woman of a certain age. You are likely over the age of 25 and – from my experience – are either i) afraid to try something new (be it due to embarrassment or fear of injury) or ii) feel you lack the resources (time, money, opportunity). Well, here’s the thing: it’s not too late nor too difficult. Spring is a wonderful chance to get into outdoor activity. Don’t make it complicated. Go for a walk or hike, try a short jog, get on a bike, jump in a lake. It’s really that simple. On top of that, there are ample groups for the beginner these days (some women only) – join one.
The second piece of the government’s commitment to gender parity is the explicit recognition of incorporating equality at all facets of sport, this means in coaching, officiating, and other leadership roles. It’s hard to quantify the value of what having a female coach or official means to a young girl but – and I promise you this – from experience, it is amazing. And this is where I’m pleading to all the moms out there: coach your girls. Even informally, simply be with them and actively participate in their interest of choice. You be the one to take them for a ride/hike/paddle. Show them that you can be active for life.
I’ve summarized the budget here and also included the details for further reading (access: https://www.budget.gc.ca/2018/docs/plan/chap-04-en.html#Supporting-the-Health-and-Wellness-of-Canadians).
- Significant gender participation in sport and physical activity gap: 1/6 of Canadian women versus 1/3 of Canadian men.
- Men are 2-3 times more likely to be coaches, officials, or in other leadership positions than women.
- 1/10 children meet minimum Canadian Physical Activity Guidelines.
- 4th leading cause of death worldwide is due to inactivity = 3.2 million deaths/year.
Gender equality in sport at every level by 2035
- $30 million over 3 years to support research and promote women and girls’ participation in sport, at all levels and in all facets.
- $25 million over 5 years to ParticpACTION
- $16 million over 5 years to Special Olympics Canaa
MORE WOMEN AND GIRLS IN SPORT
Canada’s women and girl athletes do us proud at high-performance sport events, and regularly achieve podium success at Senior World Championships, and Olympic and Paralympic Games. However, fewer Canadian women and girls participate in sport and physical activity than men and boys—Statistics Canada estimates that in 2010 approximately one-third of Canadian men and one-sixth of Canadian women regularly participated in sport. Men are also approximately two to three times more likely to be coaches, officials or in other leadership positions than women.
We need to create an environment where women and girls feel comfortable engaging in physical activity and sport—at all ages and all levels. To do so, we need to better understand why women and girls choose not to participate in sport, or move into the senior ranks of coaching or management of sports, and then work to remove the barriers that exist.
This is why through Budget 2018, the Government is setting a target to achieve gender equality in sport at every level by 2035, and proposes to provide an initial $30 million over three years to support data and research and innovative practices to promote women and girls’ participation in sport, and provide support to national sports organizations to promote the greater inclusion of women and girls in all facets of sport.
Inactivity is now the fourth leading cause of death worldwide, responsible for an estimated 3.2 million deaths each year. In Canada, the vast majority of Canadians do not meet recommended levels of physical activity, with 9 out of 10 children and youth not meeting Canadian Physical Activity Guidelines. ParticipACTION is a national non-profit organization, originally established in 1971, whose mission is to make physical activity a vital part of everyday life.
The Government proposes to provide $25 million over five years, starting in 2018–19, for ParticipACTION to increase participation in daily physical activity among Canadians.
SUPPORTING SPECIAL OLYMPICS
Special Olympics is a global grassroots movement, bringing community programs and competition opportunities to more than 4.5 million children, youth and adults with intellectual disabilities across 170 countries. Special Olympics Canada is dedicated to enriching the lives of Canadians with an intellectual disability through sport.
The Government proposes to provide $16 million over five years, starting in 2018–19, with $2 million per year ongoing, for Special Olympics Canada to sustain its empowering movement, which supports more than 45,000 children, youth and adults in Canada with intellectual disabilities through its extraordinary network of more than 21,000 volunteers.