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Participation by Girls and Young Women in Sport and Physical Activity

Despite the proven benefits, participation and leadership of girls and women in sport and physical activity within Canada remains very low. Females make up more than 50% of Canada’s population. However:
•    Only 4% of girls achieved the recommended level of daily physical activity, compared to 9% of boys.
•    Girls aged 5 to 19 took about 1,300 fewer daily steps than boys (2011).
•    Only 70% of girls participated regularly in sport during the previous 12 months, compared to 81% of boys.
•    Fewer girls (27%) than boys participated in sport four or more times a week.
•    Girls and women from multicultural backgrounds are the least-active participants in the Canadian sport and recreation system.

These trends continue into adulthood:
•    In 2010, only 19% of Canadian women participated in sport compared to 35% of men.
•    Females made up 39% of registered competitors and 38% of recreational members with summer sport National Sport Organizations (Sport Canada).
•    Women occupied 19% of head coach positions and 17% of athletic director positions in Canadian university sport (Donnelly & Kidd, 2011).
•    Only one in five of the coaches of high-performance athletes who receive funding from the Government or from sport organizations are women.
•    Women are substantially under-represented as presidents, chairpersons and board members of sport or physical activity organizations, as well as of Executive Directors and CEOs.

According to Canada’s 2011 Physical Activity Report Card (Active Healthy Kids Canada):
•    On average, boys spend more time outside than girls.
•    Girls appear to be more active when they participate in physical activity with their best friends, whereas boys with active friends, regardless of how close they are, spend more time doing intense physical activity (These activities make your heart race faster, you sweat more and may feel winded).
•    According to the Media Awareness Network, in 2011:
•    Magazines targeting girls and women had over 10 times more advertisements and articles promoting weight loss than magazines targeting boys and men.
•     77% of commercials show girls laughing, talking or being an observer, whereas 55% of commercials showed boys building and fixing toys or fighting.

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