Group aims to tackle gender equity in sport
Hayley Wickenheiser believes sport is a microcosm of life, and how women are treated in sport is a barometer of the health of a society.
The four-time Olympic gold medallist in women’s hockey was among a dozen people named Tuesday to Canadian Sport Minister Kirsty Duncan’s working group on gender equity in sport.
The federal government announced in this year’s budget the goal of achieving gender equity in sport “at every level by 2035” and committed an initial $30 million over the next three years to it.
Wickenheiser, Olympic paddler Adam van Koeverden, soccer coach John Herdman, Olympic water polo player Waneek Horn-Miller and Paralympic swimmer Chelsey Gotell are among the dozen Duncan recruited to tackle dropout rates among adolescent girls, a lack of women in leadership roles and sexual harassment in sport.
“This group has to drive action. This working group has to work,” Wickenheiser said. “If this working group doesn’t come out with tangible changes that are implemented, then it’s a failure. We need to make sure we’re world-leading in this. There’s no reason we can’t be.”
The nine women and three men in the group are volunteering their time and are not paid, Duncan said.
“I think men have to be included in the conversation to be part of the solution,” the minister said.
The group’s chair is Laval University Prof. Guylaine Demers, who as the head of Egale Action works for the equality of women through sport and physical activity.
Only 24 per cent of women in Canada participate in sport compared with 45 per cent of men; girls’ participation drops 22 per cent when they reach adolescence; and less than half the senior staff in national sport organizations are women, according to the Canadian Association for the Advancement of Women and Sport and Physical Activity.