This Girl Can launches winter safety campaign

Sport England’s award-winning This Girl Can campaign took to the streets of central London recently to launch a new initiative aimed at raising awareness of the safety concerns that prevent women from being active outdoors during winter. 

#LetsLiftTheCurfew got underway with a 5k run around Westminster as women from running clubs across the capital, including London City Runners, Black Girls Do Run and This Girl Runs, were accompanied by a mobile digital screen displaying quotes from women on how they feel about getting active outdoors as the clocks go back. 

Launched in response to research which found that almost half (48%) of women prefer not to be active outside after dark and six in 10 (60%) women worry about the risk of sexual harassment or intimidation, the initiative aims to address these concerns by calling for a safer and more inclusive experience for all women when getting active outdoors after dark.

The campaign also highlights how nearly half (46%) of women change their outdoor exercise routines during winter to accommodate a perceived ‘curfew’, with the fear of being active outside in darkness making women feel ‘anxious’, ‘vulnerable’ and ‘unsafe’.   

As a result, two in five (40%) women say they feel limited and more than a quarter (27%) feel sad or frustrated – a statistic our director of marketing, Kate Dale, is determined to change. 

“As daylight hours diminish, many women are opting to stay indoors due to safety concerns, resulting in decreased physical activity levels,” she said.

“The impact of this on women’s overall health and wellbeing is of massive concern and requires both attention and intervention.

“It’s not right that, for nearly half the year, we feel we have fewer options to be active in the ways that work for us.

“And even if we go out despite these fears, it’s harder to get the joy, freedom and confidence that physical activity can bring if you’re constantly looking over your shoulder or monitoring your surroundings.

“It’s yet another emotional barrier, something else we have to manage if we want to build activity into our routines and lives.”

Kate welcomed the opportunity this meeting provided to have a conversation about the challenges women face and develop a strategy to overcome these issues.

“Helping women feel safe when getting active is not a singular responsibility; we need everyone to engage with the issue,” she added. 

“Our parliamentary roundtable helped to facilitate this, bringing parliamentarians, experts, academics and influencers together to discuss how we can make sport and physical activity feel and be safe for women, 12 months a year.  

“It was a powerful session, and we are optimistic about the change we can bring about.  

“We must all work together to keep the conversation going, while bringing on board individuals, groups and organisations across wider society to understand their role in making women feel safer when getting active.” 

Passing landmarks including the Houses of Parliament and Big Ben, last night’s runners wore t-shirts emblazoned with messages conveying how they feel about getting active outside during the longer winter nights. 

#LetsLiftTheCurfew forms part of This Girl Can’s wider mission to close the Enjoyment Gap – which highlights the fact that 2.4 million fewer women than men enjoy getting active. 

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