What is Your Role?

To achieve gender equity in sport and in Canada, everyone needs to commit to playing their part. Whether you’re an athlete, coach, parent, CEO, or fan, there’s a role for you. Women and girls need allies to support and champion them and their needs.

What is Allyship?

An ally is a person who believes in the dignity and respect of all people and takes action by supporting and advocating with groups or individuals being targeted by social injustice. All individuals, including women and girls, have multiple identities based not only on gender, but on factors such as race, sexual orientation, age, ability, culture, and religion. This affects the way they experience sport, and when and how they might experience discrimination. 

It’s important to recognize that different individuals hold different levels of power in any given context, sport or otherwise. Those who have a higher level of power or influence have the potential to ensure those with less power are being treated equitably. Anyone can act as an ally. 

The best way to figure out what role you can play in supporting women and girls in sport is to ask. We recommend having these conversations with your coworkers, parents, children, athletes, funders, and anyone else involved in sport and physical activity program development. Here are a few ideas to get you started.

What Can I Do?

Speak Up! 

Be vocal about equitable access for girls and women with respect to programs, facilities, equipment, quality coaching, leadership opportunities, media coverage, etc. Question policies and practices that limit girls’ and women’s participation and leadership in sport and physical activity, and throughout Canadian society.

Celebrate Women Athletes

Make attending or watching a women’s sport event an event for the whole family. Attend or tune in to a professional game or national, provincial or territorial championship; or cheer on a local university, college or high school team.

Train And Certify Women Coaches And Officials

Provide women-only coaching and officiating courses and promote other training and certification opportunities in your community and sport. Increase gender equity on the field by supporting the hiring/selection of women as coaches and officials. Connect women with the resources and opportunities available through the Coaching Association of Canada’s Women in Coaching Program and National Coaching Certification Program (NCCP).

Recruit Women Leaders

Ensure there are many female voices representing the interests of both women and men on any Boards with which you are involved. Canadian Women & Sport has resources to support this, such as our publications, Women on Boards: A Guide to Getting Involved, and The Leading Edge: Good Practices for Gender Equitable Boards. You can also host a Canadian Women & Sport Women and Leadership Workshop to increase the skills, networks and confidence of women colleagues.

Pay-It-Forward and Mentor

Invite women colleagues to attend meetings and events to build their skills, expand their networks, and increase their knowledge of your organization and the sport and physical activity system. Share your experiences, discuss their challenges, and address systemic barriers that may be limiting their involvement. 

Invite Women 

Invite women to share their expertise and experiences at conferences and events as keynote speakers and session presenters and facilitate introductions of women to members of your network to help them connect.

Nominate Women Leaders 

Nominate women leaders for awards and recognition programs such as the YWCA’s Women of Distinction Awards; community service awards; or community, provincial/territorial, national and international sport and physical activity awards. Nominate women athletes, coaches, officials and builders for Sport Halls of Fame.

Communicate Opportunities 

Share information about upcoming training events, funding opportunities, and new resources to ensure women are aware of ways to advance their career, secure financial resources for an important project, and are up to date with advancements in the field. Tap into funds dedicated to supporting girls and women as participants and leaders, such as the WISE Fund. Utilize other available funding to support efforts to engage girls and women, through organizations such as True Sport Foundation; Heart & Stroke Foundation; and Canadian Heritage.

Educate Yourself And Others 

Know the facts about the barriers girls and women confront, and their experiences as participants and leaders. Attend a Canadian Women & Sport workshop or download one of our resources to find out more and take action.