With every new year comes a new edition of International Women’s Day (IWD). The day of observance has existed for over a century, with earliest reports dating back to 1909. The event celebrates women’s achievements in all different spheres and whilst remarkable progress has been made, the road is still long. IWD therefore remains a call to action to speed up gender equity. Today in Europe, only 8% of the EU’s large listed company-CEOs are women, and women continue to earn an average of 36% less than their male counterparts. Furthermore, 44% of Europeans still think the most important role of a woman is to take care of her home and family. 
In 2020, the European Commission launched the Gender Equality Strategy 2020-2025 outlining the EU’s key work, objectives and actions on the topic. Half way through the Strategy, significant progress has been made on EU legislations (combat gender-based violence, work-life balance, gender balance on corporate boards, pay transparency) and numerous other initiatives, such as the publications of the European Care Strategy, the 2023 Report on Gender Equality in the EU, or the launch of the challenging gender stereotypes campaign.
As part of EuropeActive’s commitment to promote and safeguard an inclusive and welcoming environment for all across the fitness and physical activity ecosystem, and in close collaboration with EuropeActive’s Inclusion Advisory Group, we are happy to offer insights into what is happening for IWD in our sector. This is further correlated with our European activities as it falls under our awareness-raising activities for our #HealthyLifestyle4All pledge.
Saly Marone, International Training Specialist at Basic-fit, shared some perspectives from their Diversity, Equity and Inclusion workgroup, and their IWD event, which Saly moderated: 
Diversity and inclusion are included in Basic-Fit core values (Be, Accessible, Smart, Inclusive, Committed) and a pillar of our strategy. Most specifically, International Women’s Day is important to our organisation to ensure that we can:
  1. Understand the importance of diversity in leadership and embracing differences together.
  2. Draw female leadership from the business to share their experiences. 
  3. Celebrate the power and authentic voice of women as well as their influence and strength at Basic-Fit
  4. Gain deeper understanding of the skills, qualities and attributes needed to be a successful leader.
Our contribution to this year International Women’s Day has been to run our first Women in Leadership event on March 7th, with our CCO & Operating Director France as panellists talking about their experiences, Leadership at Basic-Fit and what advice they would give when leading others. Following this event we aim to begin empowering and mobilising employee resource groups across Basic-Fit to support driving our Diversity and Inclusion vision and strategy.’ Check out the after-movie of their Lunch&Learn event dedicated to Women in Leadership here!
Myzone’s Head of Content, Ben Hackney-Williams shares ‘If anything, the ideal world is when International Women's Day is solely used to celebrate the policies and mindsets that have already been established to benefit women and raise equity. Progression has been made, but there's still a long way to go, which is why every IWD activity it vital.
Myzone is proud to elevate the visibility of women across the sector and celebrate them forging positive change. We're lucky to have industry leaders on staff, and foundational partner communities that are making a difference around the world. 
As fitness professionals, we're all perfectly positioned to support and empower women's choices in health, applaud equity and continue the conscious efforts to stamp out gender bias for good. Let's keep our promises.
For IWD 2023, Les Mills Nordic asked four of their trainers and presenters their thoughts about International Women's Day, diversity, equity and inclusion. CEO, and Advisory Group member, Lena Holmberg shared: ‘We asked four women of Les Mills Nordic about diversity, inclusion, equity, and their message on International Women’s Day. These ladies are living proof of resilience, strength, inspiration, and leading with passion and example.
Finally, Rachel Shinn, The Gym Group’s Diversity, Inclusion & Wellbeing Lead, told us: ‘At The Gym Group we are committed to breaking down barriers to fitness for all and ensuring that The Gym Group is a place where everyone is welcomed, accepted for who they are, and is given the opportunity to achieve their goals. International Women’s Day 2023 is about embracing equity and is an opportunity for us to reflect on the work we have achieved so far in driving gender equity and equality, as well as acknowledge the work left to do to continue driving momentum for the whole sector. 
Over the last two years we have focused on understanding the barriers that women in our industry face both as members and employees and have used these insights to influence our EDI strategy. In 2022 we launched two key gender targets to support us in achieving greater gender balance and representation within our business – to achieve 50/50 gender balanced workforce by 2030 and 40% women on our Senior Leadership Team by 2025. We have made great progress on these targets, and proud of the work we're doing - including launching our female development programme, our commitment to tackling gymtimidation, inclusive gym design principles and hosting events to support women in the workplace.
Our commitments of course extend beyond International Women's Day, we remain passionate about continuing this progress and have some exciting projects in the pipeline, aimed at supporting both women’s professional development at The Gym Group and our members with their health and fitness goals. We acknowledge the work left to do, to help support women across the sector, and look forward to sharing more great initiatives to help us get there.
EuropeActive from its side developed an Inclusion Guide on How to better engage with women and girls as part of the 2022 #BEACTIVE DAY campaign. Developed with project partners, the document is a hands-on guide for fitness and physical activity clubs and centres that offers context on the physical activity gender gap, a roadmap on how to improve the target group’s presence in clubs, and a step-by-step guide on creating a campaign to engage with women and girls. The Inclusion Guide is available in English, Bosnian, Bulgarian, Czech, Italian, Macedonian, Dutch, Slovenian and Ukrainian.  
Mar 9, 2023 By Anna Miskovicova