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Mar 2023 | Women Just Going For It!!

Athletic Therapy Ontario feels it is important to shine a light on a number of organizations doing a super job advancing women in sport in Canada.

March is International Women’s Day, IWD week and IWD month, so given all the activities at this time of year, it is a good time to take a look at sport herstory.

Kudos to the Canadian Women & Sport campaign under the banner “She’s Got It All”. Additional credit to other campaigns such as “She Belongs” and “She Shoots, She Scores” and “Lead Her Forward”. It’s all long overdue. Better still, it’s having an impact asserting a gendered lens on women and girls’ access and challenges in sport.

Athletic Therapists have a role in helping make sport more accessible to women and girls. The OATA was pleased to take a stand and sign the Bauer Girls’ Hocket Bill of Rights for equal ice time and gender equity in hockey.

We agree with the fundamental pillar to the pledge program that all should feel welcomed to play the game of hockey. ATs also recognize that girls in hockey do not get the same access, opportunities, and resources as boys do. Something as simple as having a safe locker room isn’t even a guarantee.

It is an interesting moment in the history of women in sport in Canada that hockey was actually among the first sports to welcome women. During the 1890's women's hockey teams were being established. Women didn’t have the vote then, nor were the recognized as “Persons” under the British North America Act, but they could play this favourite winter game. The first women's hockey club was founded at Queen's University in 1895. Other interesting facts from the 1800s in Canada include Lady Isobel Stanley, daughter of Canada's sixth Governor General, was a trailblazing early pioneer in women's hockey. The earliest known photograph of women's hockey in Canada captured Isobel playing shinny in a long white dress beside Government House in Ottawa circa 1890. Isobel and her brothers are supposed to have played a role in encouraging Lord Stanley to donate the silver trophy that later became the National Hockey League's iconic championship prize.

It was exceptionally rare for Canadian women to compete in sport before the late nineteenth century. Early female athletes struggled against discriminatory assumptions that women inherently lacked the physical speed and strength required to participate in sport, and flawed medical theories actively popularized the belief that strenuous physical activity actually threatened women's reproductive abilities. Today’s media regularly cover stories of sexual harassment and other practices that serve to discriminate against women in sport or create systemic barriers to full participation.

As the 2023 IWD theme declared, “Every Woman Counts” and that a woman’s “place” is any where and in any sport she wants to be.

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