The situation in Canada
The number of women and girls participating in regular physical activity, recreational sports and elite competitions has increased rapidly in the last few decades. This is significant considering the fact that no women participated in the first Olympic Games back in 1896. Women and girls, however, who account for more than 50 percent of the population of Canada, continue to be underrepresented in the sport and physical activity system.
Significant gender differences persist in participation and leadership in the Canadian sport and physical activity system. Women and girls typically report more barriers to sport and physical activity participation across the lifespan than men and boys, affecting their involvement as participants, athletes, coaches, officials and leaders.
It is important to note that the development of female athletes needs to be approached differently than that of a male athlete. Training programs are not “one size fits all.” Increased understanding about biological and physiological aspects that affect the female athlete will lead to athlete-appropriate education, improved awareness and prevention of the conditions known to interfere with female athlete performance.
How Physical Literacy helps Women and Girls
Our initiatives offer an opportunity to address the recognized shortcomings of conventional sport and physical activity programming, to adequately address gender differences. It is time to create optimal conditions and systems that support women and girls to be active at all stages of participation and competition, as coaches, officials, leaders and in other roles related to sport and physical activity.