Opinion piece by Dr Lyn Roberts AO, Acting VicHealth CEO
First published in the Sunraysia Daily, 8 April 2019.
Over the weekend, records were smashed as over 53,000 fans filled the Adelaide Oval stands to watch the third AFLW Grand Final, proving that women’s sport can no longer be sidelined.
It’s fantastic to see growing momentum and desire for women’s sport and, critically, the demand for female athletes to be respected in the public eye.
The reaction to the now iconic photo of AFLW superstar Tayla Harris is evidence of how the public is sick and tired of the backlash, negativity and vile sexism women face when they are physically active.
VicHealth understands that women shouldn’t have to face abuse, shaming, catcalling and heckling when they choose to get active – whether that’s playing AFLW or going for a walk around the block.
It’s why we hosted our first ever This Girl Can Week across Victoria from 18-24 March, a week where women across the state could say ‘this week I can’, free from judgement and degrading comments.
Over 370 events took place across the state, ranging from canoeing, squash, pickleball, Dragon Boating, hiking, netball, bowls or group fitness, showing that Victorian women well and truly ‘can’ do it. Importantly the events were inclusive, beginner-friendly and non-judgemental, allowing women to give something new a go or return to an activity in a fun and supportive environment.
We also saw a surge in women sharing their experiences to the #ThisGirlCanVIC community of women, encouraging others to get on board and supporting each other.
A big thank you to everyone in the community who made This Girl Can Week such a great success.
If you’re feeling inspired and want to get involved with the campaign, heading to thisgirlcan.com.au or become part of our This Girl Can – Victoria community by finding us on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram and follow the #ThisGirlCanVIC.