Gender Equity and Innovation


Today, the Honourable Kirsty Duncan, Minister of Science and Sport announced funding to the Canadian Association for the Advancement of Women and Sport and Physical Activity (CAAWS) to increase participation of women and girls in sport, and to increase women in leadership positions such as coaches, referees, officials and sport organization leaders.

Empathy-Based Campaign

Women and girls face a number of challenges in the sport system. To influence behaviours and attitudes for all involved, CAAWS will develop an empathy-based awareness social media campaign aimed at the sport and physical activity sectors. This campaign will be widely distributed and designed to shift attitudes and create a sport system that welcomes and values all women and girls, regardless of talent and potential.

Women and Leadership Program

Contributing to the low sport participation rate among women and girls is a lack of women as role models in coaching, officiating and leadership positions. The rate of women in sport leadership positions is one-third that of men, and is significantly lower in coaching.

This investment will also help CAAWS scale up its Women and Leadership Program, which provides professional development sessions to women working or volunteering in the sport or physical activity sector.

More mentorship programs for women’s coaching will be offered and multisport initiatives for women’s representation will be developed, including targeted support to women employees and board members.

Women in Sport Encouragement Fund

The Women in Sport Encouragement (WISE) Fund supports the development of female leaders in sport and supports organizations to strengthen their engagement of girls and women in sport, with an emphasis on retaining girls in sport and expanding female leadership in sport. The investment will enable CAAWS to scale up the innovative programs and initiatives targeted by the WISE Fund.

Gender Equity Action Plans

Sport organizations will be supported by CAAWS to develop custom Gender Equity Action Plans. The information gathered by the gender audits and the Gender-Based Analysis Plus (GBA+) training will help inform sport organizations on how to design and implement initiatives that will support the participation of all genders within their sport.

Gender Audit Service

CAAWS will design and deliver a gender equity audit service for sport organizations to identify areas for improvement across multiple organizational dimensions. GBA+ training will be utilized within the audit service as a way to orient participating organizational leaders to the critical perspective applied in the process, and to build their competency to take action.

System-Wide Report Card

CAAWS will use the information gathered through the Gender Audits and Gender Equity Action Plans to produce a sport system-wide gender equity report card in 2020–21 and 2021–22. In order to inform and support the development of policies and programs that will advance gender equity work in Canada, the report card will be produced annually to share with Sport Canada. This will consist of a roll-up of the findings and recommendations from the gender audits, as well as a roll-up of the action plans created by participating national organizations.

Gender-Based Analysis Plus Training

The participation rates of women and girls in sport are more affected when gender is associated with other factors (for example, Indigenous status, age or disability). The limited understanding of the various barriers and factors impacting participation rates of women and girls in sport underscores the critical need for attention to gender-based factors in the design and delivery of programming.

To help sport organizations better understand gender issues in their sport, CAAWS will develop Gender-Based Analysis Plus (GBA+) training modules. GBA+ is an analytical process used to assess how diverse groups of women, men and non-binary people may experience policies, programs and initiatives. GBA+ also considers many other identity factors, like race, ethnicity, religion, age, and mental or physical disability.


Sport Canada recently launched the Sport Support Program Innovation Initiative, which provides funding to eligible organizations for the testing of innovative sport programming. The Innovation Initiative will enable the trial of new programs, strategies and technologies in order to develop evidence-based solutions that can be shared nationwide. The expected results are to improve sport participation for women and girls by piloting new or adapted quality sport approaches.

Government of Canada Actions

The Government of Canada, in collaboration with provincial and territorial governments and the sport community, has taken several actions since the Budget 2018 announcement to increase the participation rates of women and girls in sport. These actions include:

  • The Government of Canada, in its daily activities, is committed to ensuring an inclusive sport system where women and girls are actively engaged and equitably supported in a full range of roles. Sport Canada’s funding programs present effective tools to address this commitment, providing support to multisport service organizations like CAAWS and over 56 national sport organizations, the hosting of international sport events like the Women’s Soccer World Cup, and providing direct support to athletes through the Athlete Assistance Program.
  • In April 2018, Minister Duncan established the Working Group on Gender Equity in Sport, composed of 12 leaders in the sport community. Through that platform, members shared their experiences, perspectives and insights by discussing ideas and options on how to increase the representation of women in all facets of sport, and helped identify additional measures to address the issue of harassment, abuse and discrimination in sport.
  • Sport Canada officials contributed to the Federal-Provincial/Territorial Working Group on Women and Girls in Sport that was established to provide recommendations on initiatives aimed at increasing the participation of women and girls in all facets of sport. Three years of work by this group culminated with F-P/T Ministers responsible for sport, physical activity and recreation accepting the majority of the recommendations contained in the group’s Recommendation Report at their recent meeting in Red Deer, Alberta, on February 14 and 15, 2019.
  • On February 21, 2019, Minister Duncan announced the creation of the Gender Equity Secretariat, which will allow Sport Canada to position itself as a leader of gender equity in sport. The Secretariat will be responsible for developing, implementing and monitoring a Gender Equity in Sport Strategy. The Secretariat will support, administer and monitor existing and emerging gender equity initiatives and programs, and look at innovative ways of addressing the challenges of participation and retention of girls and women in sport.
  • On February 22, 2019, Sport Canada launched the Innovation Initiative, which will provide funding to eligible organizations for testing innovative approaches to encourage women and girls to participate and remain in sport.


For more information (media only), please contact:

Daniele Medlej
Press Secretary
Office of the Minister of Science and Sport

Media Relations
Canadian Heritage

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