While there have been many advances for women in sport over recent years, there is definitely work still to be done for a truly equitable, inclusive environment for all women, especially in Para sport.
To mark International Women’s Day, we asked a few leaders within the Canadian Paralympic community to share their thoughts on how we can embrace equity for women in sport.
Below are some of their messages:
Erica Gavel – Chair, Canadian Paralympic Athletes’ Council / Rio 2016 Paralympian, Wheelchair Basketball
“While the current sport landscape has done a reasonable job in breaking down barriers regarding equity and women in sport, there is still room to improve, particularly in Paralympic sport. Given the discrepancy of male to female athletes at the Paralympic Games, how hard it can be for females to enter and progress in sports administration or science, and the lack of female head coaches, we can embrace equity by creating developmental and mentorship opportunities for women across all disciplines. I am hopeful that things are only going to get better, and better.”
Judy Joseph-Black – Canadian Paralympic Committee Board of Directors / Longtime Sports Administrator
“We can embrace equity for women in sport by listening and empowering women who strive to be the best. It takes a strong community of women to hold women high. Let's work together to create safe spaces for women to grow. Let's work on caregiver policies for women coaches, athletes, and sport administrators so women can choose to have a family AND a career in sport. Let's listen to newcomer's voices and create programs that are inclusive. Let's be innovative and outside-the-box thinkers and engage women in decision making positions. Let's picture a future where women in sport feel valued, heard, and happy in a career that makes them feel fulfilled.”
Amy Burk – Four-time Paralympian, Goalball / Member of the Canadian Paralympic Athletes’ Council
“As we continue to strive for gender equity here in Canada, we need to make sure we are including everyone. We have such amazing female athletes who are good role models and inspiration for our younger girls. We need more coverage of women’s sports so that these younger girls can see what is out there and what they can do. This is just as important, if not more, for our Para athletes. Para sport is not as easily available as able-bodied sport, and we need to show the younger generations what is out there for them.
Canadian female athletes are absolutely crushing it on the international stage, and this should be shared from coast to coast to coast.
While we continue to fight for equity across the board for women's sports, I believe we also need to end the stigma that male athletes are more superior and deserve more. We train just as hard as our male counterparts and deserve the same that’s offered to male athletes.
While we are indeed moving in the right direction, we could be doing so much better.”
Gail Hamamoto – Vice-President, Canadian Paralympic Committee / Longtime Sports Administrator
“On International Women's Day, embracing equity for women in sport requires that we understand how intersectionality influences individual experiences and barriers to inclusion for women and girls. Whether it is an athlete who lives with a disability, a coach who is a nursing mother, or a participant who is a newcomer to Canada, each person should feel supported, welcome, and safe in sport.”
Marni Abbott-Peter – Four-time Paralympian & Three-time Paralympic Champion, Wheelchair Basketball / Coach
“In order to embrace equity for women in sport, particularly in Para sport, it is important to understand the specific barriers we face as female athletes and coaches with disabilities. True inclusion requires more than one approach, but a fair distribution of resources is a great starting point.”