Minister Kirsty Duncan Announces Working Group on Gender Equity in Sport

News release

GATINEAU, April 24, 2018

All Canadians should have the opportunity to get involved and excel in sport, regardless of gender, age and ability. They should be able to do so in an environment free of discrimination or harassment.

In 2016, the Dairy Farmers of Canada and the Canadian Association for the Advancement of Women in Sport and Physical Activity (CAAWS) released the report Women in Sport: Fueling a Lifetime of Participation. It highlighted several areas of gender inequality for Canadian women in sport. According to the research, most Canadian women are missing out on the benefits of sport—while 41 percent of girls aged 3–17 do not participate in sport, this jumps to 84 percent in adult women. Other key findings showed that only 24 percent of all athletic director positions and 17 percent of all head coaching spots in Canadian Interuniversity Sport are held by women, and only 38 percent of senior staff and 29 percent of board members at national and multi-sport organizations are female.

Today, the Honourable Kirsty Duncan, Minister of Science and Minister of Sport and Persons with Disabilities, announced a Working Group on Gender Equity in Sport to address the lack of equity. The working group will be chaired by Guylaine Demers, a renowned professor at Université Laval and president of Égale Action.

The 12 members of the working group are:

Guylaine Demers (Chair); Chelsey Gotell; John Herdman; Waneek Horn-Miller; Bruce Kidd; Lorraine Lafrenière; Nancy Lee; Karin Lofstrom; Allison Sandmeyer-Graves; Carolyn Trono; Adam van Koeverden and Hayley Wickenheiser.

The members will share their experiences, perspectives and insights with Minister Duncan on how to achieve equity in sport by 2035 by discussing, among others, the following topics:

  1. Delivering programming specifically for women and girls in sport
  2. Addressing gender-based violence in sport including sexual harassment
  3. Increasing the representation of women in sport leadership positions

Members of the working group will review existing research and data, share personal experiences, discuss the challenges faced by women and girls in sport, examine issues that may affect participation, and propose ideas, approaches and strategies for eliminating barriers and increasing participation.

In Budget 2018, the Government of Canada announced a target to achieve gender equity in sport at every level by 2035. This included an initial commitment of $30 million over three years to support data and research into innovative practices to promote women and girls’ participation in sport, and to support national sports organizations in promoting greater inclusion of women and girls in all facets of sport.

The work that will be accomplished by this working group will inform and complement other initiatives aiming to achieve gender equity in sport.


“I am pleased to announce the Working Group on Gender Equity in Sport, composed of 12 exceptional people ready to advance the Canadian sport system. Building on the work by female leaders that have come before us, the working group will be instrumental in guiding policy decisions that will ultimately better serve the needs of women and girls in sport. Thanks to the leadership, experience and knowledge of all the members, I know that together, we will contribute to our government’s commitment to achieve gender equity in sport at every level by 2035.”

—The Honourable Kirsty Duncan, Minister of Science and Minister of Sport and Persons with Disabilities

“I am honoured and thrilled by this opportunity. I have spent most of my life working to improve the position of girls and women in the world of sport, and I can assure you that I have plenty of ideas for Minister Duncan. I adore challenges, and I am going to take this one on with all my heart and passion for women’s sport.”

—Guylaine Demers, President of Égale Action and Chair of the Working Group on Gender Equity in Sport

“I am pleased to see the attention and focus on providing opportunities for women and girls through sport and sport leadership. What we need is action to make a difference, and I think this working group will do just that.”

—Hayley Wickenheiser

Quick facts

  • Although many girls participate in sport in their early years, reports show significant declines in sport participation in the transition to adolescence, with a sharper decline in girls’ participation rates than boys.

  • While women and girls make up half of Canada’s population, females participate in sport at lower rates than males. Research by CAAWS shows that 79 percent of boys and 70 percent of girls participate in sport, but adolescent girls tend to drop out of sport at a much higher rate than boys. As girls enter adolescence, their overall participation rate falls 22 percent, and school sport participation drops by almost 26 percent.

  • Women make up only 26.3 percent and 38 percent, respectively, of board members in national sport organizations and multisport service organizations. The proportions are much lower when it comes to occupying board chair positions.

  • According to data from Sport Canada’s Sport Funding and Accountability Framework, from 2012 to 2016, 30 percent of the 706 total major official positions of national sport organizations (NSOs) were held by women in both winter and summer sports. Mainstream sports reported that 30 percent of the major official positions were held by women out of a total of 598 positions. Athletes with a Disability (AWAD) sports reported that 37 percent of major official positions were held by women. Of the 33 major official positions reported by NSOs servicing both mainstream athletes and AWAD, none were held by women.

  • The working group will discuss the challenges faced by women and girls in coaching, as the percentage of female Olympic and Paralympic national team coaches has always been too low. Canada’s Olympic and Paralympic national team coaches are overwhelmingly male. At the London 2012 Olympic Games, 20.43 percent of the national team coaches were female. This dropped to 9.20 percent for the PyeongChang 2018 Olympic Games. Similarly, the percentage of female Paralympic national team coaches was low, at 11.76 percent in 2012 and 9.09 percent in 2018.

  • The 2018 Gold Coast Commonwealth Games were the most inclusive international games in history: the first such games to achieve gender equality by having the same number of medal events (133) for women and men.

Related products

Associated links


For more information (media only), please contact:

Annabelle Archambault
Press Secretary
Office of the Minister of Science and
Minister of Sport and Persons with Disabilities

Media Relations
Canadian Heritage

Search for related information by keyword: Sports | Canadian Heritage | Canada | Sport | general public | news releases
Report a problem or mistake on this page
Please select all that apply:

Thank you for your help!

You will not receive a reply. For enquiries, contact us.

Date modified: