Following the ongoing success of Sport England’s ‘This Girl Can’ campaign, another new initiative has recently been announced to try to get more women on bikes. The aim is to close the gender gap in cycling participation and to demonstrate the many benefits that it brings.
In June 2019, British Cycling and Sport England jointly launched a cycling-specific ‘This Girl Can’ campaign. It is designed to highlight the women-only recreational bike ride programme called HSBC UK Breeze, which organises hundreds of free rides across the country. This follows on from a new survey released by ‘This Girl Can’ which showed that 6 in 10 mums feel guilty about taking time to exercise, and that mothers have a big impact on their children’s future activity levels partly through setting an example by prioritising exercise in their own lives.
The campaign’s goal is to narrow cycling’s historic gender participation gap and to highlight this fantastic activity option for women. Its style mirrors that of previous ‘This Girl Can’ campaigns, with short films and photography highlighting the cycling options that are open to women, in particular British Cycling’s HSBC UK Breeze rides. Since starting in 2011, these rides – free to attend and led by women, for women – have attracted 250,000 participants.
Commenting on the joint campaign with British Cycling, Kate Dale, Sport England’s Campaign Lead, said: “’This Girl Can’ is designed to break down the emotional barriers women face when considering exercise. One of these emotional barriers is fear of judgement around capability, and HSBC UK Breeze is brilliant at addressing these barriers with friendly and knowledgeable female ride leaders who help attendees to build their confidence and skills.”
The new campaign will run for six weeks through a series of social media films and image adverts, featuring women who have all been involved with HSBC UK Breeze. The themes communicated have been informed by barriers to female participation identified by both organisations: fear of judgement, not feeling good enough, having other priorities and fitting exercise into a busy lifestyle, as identified by Sport England, and also a lack of confidence and not feeling safe, informed by British Cycling research.
We think this campaign is another great idea by Sport England and British Cycling. Anything and everything that tries to close the gender gap in sports and physical activity should be encouraged and therefore we are proud to lend our support to it.