'This Girl Can' campaign overcomes fears of judgement for millions of women

Sport England's campaign hailed a huge success in global terms after first year

With slogans such as "I jiggle therefore I am," and images of every-day women running, cycling, swimming, working out and generally being active, TV campaign 'This Girl Can' captured the attention of women around the world when it launched in early 2015. Now, the campaign's founders Sport England have released data that clearly shows the impact it's had, one year on. 

Consisting of an inspirational video that was broadcast on TV and shared extensively online, posters, billboards, videos and supporting website and social media channels, the campaign featured women of every size, shape and ethnicity enjoying a variety of different activities. The message was clear - it doesn't matter what you look like, what you do or how good you are, just have fun doing it. The This Girl Can video itself was viewed over 37 million times since then, and the number continues to grow.

Independent research commissioned by Sport England indicates that 2.8 million women aged 14 to 40 have done "some or more" activity as a result of the campaign, with over half of respondents saying they'd started exercising. The website and social media channels highlight various sports - everything from cycling and running to boxing and roller derby - and have built a huge following, with over 540,000 fans and followers. There have been more than 660,000 tweets using the campaign hashtag #thisgirlcan over the course of 2015. 

Sport England is the English Sports Council, a public body that is part-funded by the Department of Culture, Media and Sport with a focus on developing sports engagement and participation. 'This Girl Can' was initiated in response to a gender gap in sports participation that Sport England uncovered and quantified, which indicated that 2 million fewer women aged 14 to 40 played sport regularly when compared to men in the same age bracket at that time, yet 75 percent said they wanted to be more active. Sport England were concerned with identifying and overcoming the barriers that prevented these women engaging. 

“Before we began this campaign, we looked very carefully at what women were saying about why they felt sport and exercise was not for them." said Sport England CEO Jennie Price.  "Some of the issues, like time and cost, were familiar, but one of the strongest themes was a fear of judgement. Worries about being judged for being the wrong size, not fit enough and not skilled enough came up time and again. It is that fear of not being ‘good enough’ in some way, and the fear that you are the only one who feels like that, that we want to address."

The campaign included inspirational and engaging videos, case studies and images:
The campaign included inspirational and engaging videos, case studies and images:
Eye-catching slogans include "I jiggle therefore I am", "Damn right I look hot" and "Sweating like a pig, looking like a fox."

“In This Girl Can we want to tell the real story of women who exercise and play sport." Price continues, "They come in all shapes and sizes and all levels of ability. They have a myriad of reasons for doing what they do. If you are wondering if you should join them – or carry on – this campaign says it really doesn’t matter if you are a bit rubbish or completely brilliant, the main thing is that you are a woman and you are doing something, and that deserves to be celebrated.”

The research indicates that that gender gap has decreased slightly, dropping down to 1.73 million fewer women than men participating for that age group. 

Whilst there is no specific data available to identify what part cycling plays in this growth, separate data from British Cycling indicates that they are seeing a growth in women's cycling and are on track with their own strategy to get 1 million more women cycling by 2020. Through various initiatives such as Breeze  and #weride, which follows a similarly real-world inspiration message to This Girl Can, it recorded a growth of 254,000 more women cycling regularly from March 2013 to June 2015. 

Did the 'This Girl Can' campaign get you into cycling? Let us know in the comments below!

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