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#3. International Women's Day - Putting Women On The Map

Report by Natalie Weir, England Development Officer

International Women’s Day – 8 March 2020 

British Orienteering is supporting International Women’s Day. 

Putting Women On The Map

What should our clubs consider when trying to create a welcoming environment to attract more female participants and make sure they keep coming back?

The growth in British Orienteering female membership is really positive – with over 10% increase over the last 5 years. 

The growth in British Orienteering female membership over the last 5 years.

British Orienteering has identified that whilst there is a relatively strong gender balance in our sport, both in terms of membership and participation (60:40 male:female), when returning to the sport in the mid 30’s women typically start later than their male counterparts. In addition, once people start to drop out from the sport again around mid-50’s women tend to drop out sooner than their male counterparts.

British Orienteering research has also emphasised the significant role of the family in getting more women participating in orienteering. Many women who take part in orienteering first started participating in orienteering as a significant member of their family had encouraged them, or they were looking for an activity that could be enjoyed by the whole family.

“We were looking for a sport that all of us could do.”


“If my partner had not taken part then I probably wouldn’t have found out about it, or taken my children along.” 
“My husband was great at encouraging me to come along.”







Interestingly 67% of respondents to a British Orienteering research questionnaire stated that having fun and enjoying themselves was of the most importance for motivating them to participate in orienteering, whereas 41% ranked improving health and fitness as a large importance. This illustrates that for our clubs, who often focus on making courses and events more challenging in an often very individualistic sport could benefit from considering that women especially value the friendships and social elements of what our sport offers, and that female participants often feel that the benefit is that orienteering allows you to take part regardless of your fitness levels.

Therefore it’s worth clubs considering what they do to attract more female participants and make sure they keep coming back – and as previously mentioned above women taking part in Sport often have different motivations, barriers and challenges.

To help understand these differences and create a welcoming sports club for women and girls Sport England have some helpful guidance which is available here

More information from British Orienteering’s Women in Sport research is available to download on the link provided below. file:///C:/Users/nshaw/Downloads/Women%20in%20Orienteering%20Report.pdf

Photo credit:  British Orienteering 
Photo credit:  Rob Lines (Southdowns Orienteers)
Photo credit:  Steve Rush (Bristol Orienteering Klub)

Are you interested in orienteering, but don’t know enough about the sport?
This set of Frequently Asked Questions will help you find out more.

International Women's Day (IWD) provides an important moment to showcase commitment to women's equality, launch new initiatives and action, celebrate women's achievements, raise awareness, highlight gender parity gains and more.

The day is celebrated and supported globally by industry, governments, educational institutions, community groups, professional associations, women's networks, charities and non-profit bodies, the media and more.

Collectively every person and all groups can make a difference within their sphere of influence by taking concrete action to help build a more gender equal world. From small powerful grassroots gatherings to large-scale conference and events - International Women's Day is celebrated everywhere. It's a big day for inspiration and change.


#ThisGirlCan #IWD #ParkRun #Orienteering

#IWD2020 #EachforEqual