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This Girl Can Launches Winter Safety Campaign

November 10, 2023 

The award-winning UK campaign, This Girl Can, launched a new initiative at the end of October to raise awareness on the safety concerns that often stop women from being active outdoors during the winter months. #LetsLiftTheCurfew is highlighting the concerns women feel when excercising after dark and calling for a safer and more inclusive experience.

The effort was created in response to research that found that almost half of women curtail their outdoor physical activities at night and 60% of women worry about the risk of sexual harassment or intimidation. Because of darker evenings during winter months, nearly half of women change their outdoor exercise routines to accommodate a perceived ‘curfew’, as exercising in the dark makes them feel ‘anxious’, ‘vulnerable’ and ‘unsafe’. 27% felt sad or frustrated. 

“As daylight hours diminish, many women are opting to stay indoors due to safety concerns, resulting in decreased physical activity levels,” said Sport England Director of Marketing, Kate Dale who explains that the initiative is determined to alleviate worries about being active in the dark and tackle the barriers to these specific inactivity levels. 

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

#LetsLiftTheCurfew got underway on October 31 with a 5K run around Westminster in London with women from running clubs across the capital including London City Runners, Black Girls Do Run and This Girl Runs taking part. All runners wore t-shirts with messages conveying how they felt about getting active outside during the longer winter nights. There was also a mobile digital screen displaying quotes from women on how they feel about getting active outdoors as the clocks went back on October 29 across the country – plunging the country into darkness sooner. 

The launch followed a parliamentary roundtable on October 19 attended by thought leaders including Caroline Nokes MP and Kim Leadbeater MP who identified key themes and action areas to make playing sports and physical activity safer for women. These included:

  • Culture – education around respect for, and allyship with, women is needed from a young age and women’s experiences must be taken seriously, including minor aggressions which can build to make women feel unsafe.
  • Reporting – ensuring proper frameworks are in place to report misogynistic behavior of all levels in a range of environments.
  • Planning – planning environments, including sports and games areas in public outdoor spaces, e.g. skateparks, with a female lens.
  • Data – identifying and implementing opportunities to share safety information to inform solutions.
  • Community – acknowledging the power in partnerships to reach broader audiences with important messages.

“It was a powerful session and we are optimistic about the change we can bring about,” said Dale. “Helping women feel safe when getting active is not a singular responsibility; we need everyone to engage with the issue. We must all work together to keep the conversation going while bringing on board individuals, groups and organizations across wider society to understand their role in making women feel safer when getting active.” 

This Girl Can was created in 2015 by Sport England as a response to its activity survey that revealed there were two million fewer women participating in sports than men. Women shared that they were put off from taking part in physical activity due to a fear of judgment – about the way they look when they exercise, that they’re not good enough to join in or that they should be spending more time on their families, studies or other priorities.

The resulting campaign therefore challenged the conventional idea of what exercise looks like and reaches out to women of all backgrounds and ethnicities who feel left behind by traditional exercise. #LetsLiftTheCurfew forms part of This Girl Can’s wider mission to close the Enjoyment Gap, which tackles the barriers to physical activity for women across the UK. 

Source and images: Sport England 


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