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B.C. sport leaders convene to keep girls and women in the game

B.C. sport leaders convene to keep girls and women in the game

The loss of sport and physical activity opportunities during the COVID-19 pandemic has been devastating, and we know that women and girls are facing additional barriers to return to sport. On March 4, 2021, viaSport gathered 50 leaders from provincial sport organizations across British Columbia to celebrate International Women’s Day and share their ideas for building visions for gender equity in their organizations and for sport across the province.

The viaSport BC interactive virtual event was delivered in partnership with Canadian Women & Sport, the national organization that supports a more equitable sport system for girls and women and all Canadians. Delegates were nominated by their organizations to engage in vision-setting and peer learning exercises while empowering them to lead this work in their sports. They were welcomed by viaSport CEO, Charlene Krepiakevich, who commended them for showing up to champion equity during this challenging time for sport.

“Being here today, you are showing your commitment to gender equity in the return to sport,” said Krepiakevich. “As we navigate the next phases together, you have our full support in keeping girls and women a priority. A strong recovery for the sport sector is impossible without girls and women, both on the field of play, and at the decision-making table.”

Attendees were also sent greetings by government representatives, congratulating them on their dedication to challenging the status quo and encouraging their continued advocacy.

“Today we’re celebrating the importance of lifting one another up,” said Melanie Mark, Ministry of Tourism, Arts, Culture and Sport. “I believe we have to create winning conditions for women and girls to succeed. Our government believes strongly in gender equity and we are taking measures to improve opportunities. We know sport can be a great equalizer. We want women to shine on and off the court; to be active participants in all sectors of society; and be role models and champions for change.”

Guests also heard from a dynamic keynote speaker, Ainka Jess, CEO of She’s4Sports, who reinforced this year’s global theme for International Women’s Day, Choose to Challenge. Her message centred on the power of representation, and the success of a recent, collective push for more women in sports leadership and media.

The event was viaSport’s fourth annual celebration of International Women’s Day, but for some delegates, it was their first opportunity to collaborate with their peers in the sector on these issues. The discussion highlighted the appetite for more opportunities to network and share challenges and best practices that will better engage girls and women. viaSport is currently exploring ways to facilitate community and capacity building around gender equity to empower leaders to take action beyond International Women’s Day.

For more information on gender equity in sport and how to celebrate International Women’s Day, see our roundup of suggestions or get in touch at info [at] viasport [dot] ca.