The Carleton University Students’ Association Womyn’s Centre is partnering with the Carleton University Muslim Students’ Association, the Rideau River Residence Association, and the Graduate Students’ Association to campaign for women’s only gym hours at the Carleton University Fitness Centre. The campaign was officially launched November 1 at 4pm during the CUSA Womyn’s Centre’s Gym With Me event.
This initiative comes after the success of similar campaigns at University of Toronto and Ryerson University. Women’s only gym hours at these schools have resulted in an increase in women’s participation at athletics facilities during these periods.
In a survey at Ryerson University prior to the new program, 50% of female respondents reported that they did not feel comfortable accessing the gym facilities during regular hours. Women typically feel uncomfortable using co-ed workout spaces for a few main reasons:
-They have history of gender based violence. According to Statistics Canada, women in Canada are eleven times more likely than men to be a victim of sexual offences. Many victims of sexual violence prefer not to exercise in spaces with men because they feel vulnerable or uncomfortable.
-There’s a lack of cultural or religious accommodation. Many Muslim and Orthodox Jewish women adhere to dress codes that prevent them from exercising in co-ed spaces. A women’s only hour would allow them to uncover their heads and wear more comfortable exercise clothes that they would not be able to wear in a space with men present.
-They see the gym as a male dominated space.
After observing similar issues at Carleton University, the campus’ largest student groups decided to collaborate on a project they’re calling Where’s Our Women’s Only Gym Hours? The first phase of the project is a survey of female, femme, non-binary, and two spirit students. The survey is available here.
The results of the survey will be submitted to the Carleton Athletics board to demonstrate demand, along with a formal request for a women’s only gym hour program.
For more information, contact:
CUSA Womyn’s Centre
Vice President Student Services
Carleton University Students’ Association