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About Gender Equity in Recreational Sport

The issue with recreational sport and physical activity:

  • 62% of Canadian girls are not participating in any kind of sport
  • In 1992, just over half of women age 15 or older were participating in sport. In 2020, sport participation dropped to 18% of women aged 16-23
  • A similar number of boys and girls start out in sport, but more boys stay involved in sport through to late adolescence, and across the lifespan. In fact 1 in 3 girls drop out of sport vs. 1 in 10 boys.
  • Factors that prevent girls from participating include low confidence, negative body image, poor perceptions of belonging and feeling unwelcome (Source: The Rally Report, Canadian Women and Sport, June 2020)
  • Currently 1 in 4 females are not committed to returning to sport after COVID-19 (Source: Covid Alert: Pandemic Impact on Girls in Sport, July 2021)
  • Women tend to be less physically active than men. 53% of men take at least 7,500 steps per day, while 46% of women do so. The same is true of those obtaining at least 150 minutes of moderate-vigorous physical activity per week (52% of men, 46% of women) (Source: Statistics Canada, CHMS, Cycle 6, 2018 and 2019)
  • Girls, women and gender diverse people drop out of sport and recreation due to fear of judgement, fear of ability, appearance in front of others and reprisal from prioritizing themselves. Females in 120 countries have a fear of judgement in common. (Source: Literature and research review, Sport England)

In Budget 2018, the Government of Canada announced the following action and target under its plan for Reducing Poverty and Improving Health and Well-Being: Moving towards an inclusive sport system by setting a target to achieve gender parity in sport by 2035 and increasing funding to support data and research, innovative practices to promote female participation in sport and provide support to national sports organizations to support the greater inclusion of women and girls in all facets of sports.


Thanks to funding from the Government of Canada, CPRA has supported this goal by implementing a number of initiatives, informed by best practices and evidence, to increase the participation and retention of women and girls in recreational sport in Canada. In particular, CPRA focused its work on four key populations:

  • Girls aged 9-15
  • New mothers (prenatal and post-partum women)
  • Women aged 55+
  • Girls, women and non-binary individuals with intersectionalities

Overall, the project delivered five key pieces to the sector:

  • A toolkit to optimize facility use and design
  • Delivery of a workshop series in partnership with Canadian Women & Sport
  • Delivery of a webinar series focusing on each of the key populations
  • Scale-Up of the HIGH FIVE Sport program
  • A community grants program