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Guidance to help make leisure facilities safer for women and girls

The advice comes as This Girl Can continues to focus on closing the gap between the number of men and women who enjoy getting active.

This Girl Can has teamed up with ukactive to produce guidance for leisure facilities on how to make women and girls feel safer while getting active.

As part of the award-winning campaign’s latest focus on closing the ‘Enjoyment Gap’ and 2021’s guidance on how to make leisure facilities more welcoming for women and girls, this guidance turns the attention to making safer spaces to get active.

Based on a survey by Walnut of more than 900 women that showed 42% had at least one experience of sexual harassment or intimidation in a leisure facility, the guidance gives practical advice to facilities on how to help women feel safer.

A woman squats using a barbell in a gym

And for Sport England’s head of campaign activation, Claire Edwards, this worrying statistic is exactly why the guidance was produced.

“This Girl Can exists so that all women feel they have the opportunity to be active in ways that they love,” she said.  

“As is shown by our research, however, we know that more can and should be done to stamp out harassment and intimidation and support women in feeling safe when stepping through the doors of gyms and leisure centres.

“In February, we launched ‘This Girl Can With You’, a call-to-arms to sport and activity providers to dismantle the barriers that contribute to the Enjoyment Gap.

“This work is a great example of how we are working with the sector to help tackle the barriers that may prevent women enjoying being active and we are thrilled to be partnering with ukactive to help achieve this.

“Women deserve to get active as much as men – that is why this guidance has the power to play an important role in helping gyms and leisure centres tackle unacceptable behaviour.”

The Walnut research found that while only 5% of female gym users reported feeling unsafe in relation to sexual harassment and intimidation within facilities, 42% of women had experienced at least one form of sexual harassment or intimidation – such as inappropriate comments, staring or encroachment of personal space – in their fitness or leisure centre.

This figure almost doubles, to 83%, for those aged 16-24 and 76% of those who had experienced sexual harassment or intimidation reported changing their behaviour as a result – including doing things such as changing the way they dressed or the times they visited the facility.

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