HOW can we keep Ballarat women on the move and better promote our women making a mark on the field?
The City of Ballarat posed the question in a broad sense but with a clear purpose: to increase sport and recreation participation opportunities for all women in the community. Sporting groups and the region’s leading health organisations pooled ideas in an ‘active women and girls’ workshop. Their ideas will guide the City’s strategy for more even playing fields, leadership and inclusive environments.
Ballarat deputy mayor Belinda Coates, a long-time champion for women’s sport, said the strategy was about women from all backgrounds and sporting abilities to feel comfortable and motivated to get moving in passive or active exercise.
“This (strategy) is really needed. We know girls in particular drop off in participation and when they drop off, they don’t always come back to sport,” Cr Coates said. "This is something I’ve been really passionate about...gender equality in sport and recreation. Male versus female sporting funding is traditionally quite skewed. In reality, women’s sport is as important and as exciting as men’s – it is just not noticed as much.”
Ms Coates said initiatives could start at council-owned sporting facilities with possible incentives for user-groups demonstrating improvements in inclusiveness – ages, females, all-ability and culturally.
Part of the City’s work has already been in improving female change facilities at sporting grounds, like Ballarat Regional Soccer Facility. Ms Coates said club feedback had been overwhelmingly positive.
Ballarat has been setting benchmarks in women’s participation ahead of new state and federal government initiatives along the same themes.
The federal government is promoting its new #GirlsMakeYourMove campaign this month, sparked by research results that teenage girls were only half as physically active as their male peers. The social media and broadcast blast features girls getting involved in physical activities or sports they enjoy.
Health minister Sussan Ley said there were plenty of reasons why girls might be inactive, including lack of time, low confidence in ability or fear of being judged. She said the campaign was about making the idea of exercise fun and positive to set good healthy habits for life.
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