Canadian Women & Sport Reflects on 40 Years of Championing Gender Equity in Sport on International Women’s Day

Toronto, ON (March 8, 2021) Canadian Women & Sport, the country’s voice for gender equity and sport, marks its 40th anniversary this year on International Women’s Day on March 8.

Canadian Women & Sport was formed in 1981 as the Canadian Association for the Advancement of Women and Sport and Physical Activity (CAAWS). The organization’s mission remains largely the same today as it was 40 years ago: to build an equitable and inclusive sport system that empowers girls and women within and through.

The founders, many of whom remain active advocates today, were leaders in national, provincial and community sport and physical activity groups. Frustrated by the discrimination they faced in sport, with women being vastly underrepresented as leaders and participants, the founders mobilized “to promote, develop and advocate a feminist perspective on women and sport”.

Since its inception, Canadian Women & Sport has partnered with sport and physical organizations, governments, and leaders across all provinces and territories to advocate for inclusion and to support new policies and practices that create safe, welcoming and inclusive environments for all women and girls. Individuals and organizations that work with Canadian Women & Sport report being more confident to implement new ideas to better serve girls and women, ultimately building better sport programming for all.

In honour of International Women’s Day, Canadian Women & Sport asks sport leaders to challenge inequity through their return to sport plans in recognition of the integral role that women and girls play in sport and their right to enjoy the benefits of sport. Sport leaders can share their vision for a gender-equitable return to play here: 

Statement from the Chair and the CEO of Canadian Women & Sport

“Decades of advocacy and effort from hundreds of inspirational women and allies have brought about great advancements for women’s inclusion in sport – especially here in Canada. This has not only made sport in Canada more vibrant and vital to our communities, it has also created a larger platform for women to achieve equity in all areas of society through the power of sport.

As we reflect on 40 years of advocacy, we can be confident in our collective ability to effect lasting change, while knowing there is still much work that remains to be done. The progress we seek must be truly inclusive of all women and girls for it to be meaningful, as Black Lives Matter, Indigenous Reconciliation, LGBTQi2S advocates and others demonstrate so clearly.

This International Women’s Day, we link arms with our partners and champions to celebrate and to challenge the status quo as we work for a future of sport that is truly equitable and inclusive.”  

Nathalie Cook
Chair, Canadian Women & Sport

“Over the past year, the pandemic has tested the resolve and commitment of the sport community to advancing inclusion. We celebrate our partners and the many leaders and organizations who have continued to prioritize gender equity despite—and often because of—the pandemic. They understand that girls and women will play an essential role in the recovery of the sport system both on and off the field – as players, leaders and fans.

This International Women’s Day, we invite all those who love sport to #ChooseToChallenge policies and practices that serve to exclude girls and women, and to envision a new era of sport that embraces and empowers girls and women in sport and through sport.”

Allison Sandmeyer-Graves
CEO, Canadian Women & Sport

International Women’s Day Events:

Connect with Canadian Women & Sports
Instagram: @womenandsportCA

About Canadian Women & Sport Canadian Women & Sport is dedicated to creating an equitable and inclusive Canadian sport and physical activity system that empowers girls and women—as active participants and leaders—within and through sport. With a focus on systemic change, we partner with sport organizations, governments, and leaders to challenge the status quo and build better sport through gender equity.