Group aims to tackle gen­der eq­uity in sport

Edmonton Journal - - SPORTS - DONNA SPENCER

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.

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