International Women’s Day 2023

On International Women’s Day, #IWD2023, we’re reflecting on the top women’s sports stories – the good and the bad – from the past year. We’ll celebrate moments of progress and analyze moments where the sport sector fell short. While diving into a handful of major news stories, we’ll share resources that sport leaders of all levels can benefit from to help create more equitable sport for women, girls and gender-diverse people before #IWD2024. 

© Dave McKnight Coaching Association of Canada / Association canadienne des entraîneurs

Successes for gender inclusivity.

This year Skate Canada has updated its policy to allow any two athletes to compete together in ice dance or pairs events domestically. 

This change promotes gender inclusivity and creates new opportunities for athletes to showcase their skills. We applaud Skate Canada for taking this important step towards a more diverse and inclusive sport.

Currently, there are over 145 sport and recreation organizations across Canada emarking on gender equity work in their communities through our Spotlight Grant and Same Game Challenge programs.

Learn how to create more inclusive sport for women, girls and gender-diverse individuals by taking the Gender Equity LENS e-module and or our Leading The Way: 2SLGBTQ+ Inclusion in Sport Workshop.

© Denise Militzer / Canadian Women & Sport

A storyline that continues to rock Canadians: abuse and lack of safe sport within the sport system.

The hockey world has had a turbulent year in regard to safe sport. As we look to a new leadership change within the organization, we must continue to push for gender equity and safe sport education for sport leaders and athletes to be prepared to stand up to injustice. 

As a nation with a proud sporting heritage, we must continue to hold our leaders and representatives to the highest standards of respect and decency.

Learn more about how you can create safer sport for all with our latest resource:

Sport leaders can also access our Gender Equity in Coaching resource via our website:

Record-breaking year for viewership in women’s sport.

Women’s sport has been historically underestimated and underappreciated, however, this year Canadian women’s sports pulled in an unprecedented number of viewers; winning the TV battle of the Beijing Olympics with a record-breaking digital audience! Three women’s sports events earned their spots in the top 5 most-watched Beijing events. 

  • Women’s hockey – Canada/U.S. gold-medal game, 2.7 million viewers (CBC, TSN and Sportsnet).
  • Women’s freestyle skiing – Big air final, 1.839 million viewers (CBC and TSN2).
  • Women’s snowboard – Halfpipe qualifying round, 1.754 million viewers (CBC and TSN). 

Learn how to create more inclusive sport for women, girls and gender-diverse individuals by taking the Gender Equity LENS e-module.

The Gist

Locker room talk.

The actions we take have major implications in the future direction of sport. Tiger Woods handing out a tampon to a fellow competitor not only disrespects women competitors, but it perpetuates age-old stereotypes on women’s ability to compete in sport. 

We know that locker-room talk is still an issue in sport. Unfortunately, the actions high-profile athletes take – whether that’s going out and attending women’s games in support, or making sexist jokes – help or hinder the progress we’ve collectively made. 

Access our What is Gender Equity resource to get a baseline understanding on the importance of this work in your community. 

Interested in learning more? Check out our resources page for more learning opportunities


Fight for pay equity.

The Canadian Women’s Soccer team – previous 2020 Tokyo Olympic Champs – have been battling Canada Soccer for equal compensation and resources prior to major competitions in 2023. 

The 2020 Tokyo Olympic Women’s Soccer finals were the most watched event of the games on CBC with 4.4 million Canadian tuning in. With a clear interest and hunger for more of what this team has to offer, it’s disappointing that one of the best teams in the world has had to cut down training and resources to make ends meet. This team has expanded the national view for what’s possible for women’s sport in Canada. They are essential players in the growing movement to support more opportunities for girls and women in sport at all levels and deserve to be treated equitably. 

Learn how to create more inclusive sport for women, girls and gender-diverse individuals by taking the Gender Equity LENS and Keeping Girls in Sport e-modules

Corporate players investing in women athletes.

We were excited to hear that CAA, a leading talent agency, is now representing women’s hockey players! This is a significant move towards minimizing the gender gap in sports and helping to grow the sport of women’s hockey. We applaud CAA for recognizing the incredible talent and potential of female athletes, and for taking action to support their careers. Let’s continue to push for gender equality in sports! 

Meanwhile, Canadian Tire Corporation announced it is dedicating 50% of its sponsorship dollars to professional women’s sports by 2026. We’re proud to see CTC taking bold steps and are excited to work in partnership to release research that illustrates the strong business case for investment in women’s professional sport in Canada. 

Learn how to create more inclusive sport for women, girls and gender-diverse individuals by accessing our She Belongs: Building Social Connection for Lasting Participation in Sport resource. 

As we cross over another International Women’s Day, let’s continue to build on the positive momentum through the past year into 2024 by learning from past mistakes and building off previous successes. IWD is not just about a day – it’s about continuous work and on-going efforts. To those who are doing the work to create better, safer sport by sharing their lived experiences or being supportive allies – we see you. We thank you. Doing this work, getting uncomfortable and creating brave spaces is hard. We stand beside you and appreciate all that you do.

Subscribe to the Canadian Women & Sport newsletter to access gender equity learning opportunities and resources.

Looking for more ways to support the women’s sport movement in Canada? 

We’re working closely with our Commercial Women’s Sport Advisory Group and Boston Consulting Group, conducting research that explores the opportunities for the commercial women’s sport marketplace in Canada and the related financial, commercial and social benefits. 

Sign up here to stay in the know as this work unfolds: 

Special thanks to Canadian Tire Corporation, our Premier National Partner.