Activities planned for ‘Newcastle Girls Can’ week

Lycra at the ready

NUSU are holding their first ‘Newcastle Girls Can’ campaign to encourage more women to get involved in campus sport.

Starting on Tuesday (2nd May), organisers are promising a week of activities and inspiring talks for “self-indentifying women only”, based around the national Sport England campaign ‘This Girl Can’.

The week of activities has been organised by NUSU sabbatical officers and campaigners, who say there is a problem with an unreasonable public perception of the female body and certain sports facilities in Newcastle that are seen as “male only”.

Participators in the campaign can benefit from free taster sessions, including a two-hour women-only weight training session in the Sports Centre plus pole dancing and fencing.

Racial Equalities Officer at NUSU and organiser, Safiya Robinson, said: “There’s a problem because we live in a society that doesn’t allow women to take up space in the same way that men are able to.”

“Every year, in the Sports Centre feedback surveys, female students report feeling unsafe or under confident whilst using the sports facilities with spaces like the weights room being seen as “male only” spaces.”

“We live in a society that that shames women’s bodies, whether they are too skinny, too large, too muscular etc.”

“I couldn’t give a definitive answer as to what can be done about it, but acknowledging these issues and how we are all complicit in perpetuating them is definitely a good place to start”.

You do not need a sports centre membership to get involved in the activities. Participators are asked just to let the Sports Centre reception know you are there for a Newcastle Girls Can event for entry.

Asked whether it was sexist to exclude men from the activities, Politics and History fresher and regular gym-user, Sophie said:

“It’s “sexist” to keep anyone out of a space because of their gender in a theoretical way, yes, but it’s also meaningful for a group to have a place where they can feel safe and comfortable.”

“These events act as ‘confidence builders’ and can lead to women feeling more comfortable joining in with activities that have been traditionally male-centric. There are times when both men and women can benefit from gender-specific services.”

“If women feel like they will gain confidence in a women-only environment by all means provide that environment, but make it clear that this is not about putting men down, because that is not what feminism is”.

Full details and the programme of events can be found on the Facebook event page.