#ShePaddles – making a stand to encourage female participation and development throughout paddlesport

Over the last 18 months, British Canoeing, the National Governing Body for Paddlesport has been making a stand to promote female participation and development through canoeing, kayaking and stand up paddling. An ambitious project, the #ShePaddles movement goes beyond just wanting to increase female participation and sets the aspiration to get female paddlers to where they want to be. That could be leaders, coaches, athletes or to feel confident going for a Sunday paddle with family. But how does it do that and why the big fuss?

Women’s Paddling Ambassadors, a hashtag, clothing, a Facebook group just for female paddlers… If paddlesport is for everyone, then why are British Canoeing making such a song and dance about women?

Well, it all starts with boring statistics and figures (which we aren’t going to quote here!) But as a basic overview; there are more men paddling than there are women. There you have it, short and (for paddling) not so sweet.

So, British Canoeing just want more women and girls paddling?

Not quite, they also want those women to get to where they want to be in paddlesport. That means creating a welcoming and supportive environment at every level within the sport. Research shows that women will hold back from presenting themselves for assessment far longer than men at the same paddling level. So it’s important that, if women want to move into coaching and leadership roles, they get there!

It’s just a hashtag; how does that make a difference?

#ShePaddles is just one part of a bigger movement. Yes, the idea is to create chatter on social media but British Canoeing is also producing some tangible resources and programmes to help everyone understand how they can make a difference.

For the second year, the NGB has enlisted the help of ten inspiring ladies as Women’s Paddling Ambassadors. They were chosen for a range of reasons but mainly just for their full-on passion for paddling!

For those who enjoy getting social, there are online spaces to meet fellow female paddlers too. The Women’s Paddling Community on Facebook is an awesome group where over 1,100 female paddlers of all ages and abilities are sharing and supporting their paddling ideas and ambitions.

#ShePaddles is definitely not ‘just for girls’! Join the movement and spread the #ShePaddles love!

Find out more about #ShePaddles in British Canoeing’s video.