Sarah Hedley (left) and Chloe Drew (right) Credit: GUSA

GUSA on Women in Sport Week

By Thomas Harris

GUSA Vice President Sarah Headley and Health and Performance Convenor Chloe Drew discuss the need to celebrate female-identifying athletes and encourage female participation in sport during Women in Sport week.

Women in Sports week is a crucial and important event in the University calendar. It’s a time when the focus is really on female athletes as their achievements are celebrated and their involvement with sport is especially encouraged. GUSA Vice President Sarah Headley and Health and Performance Convenor Chloe Drew spoke to The Glasgow Guardian about the importance of the campaign which runs from the 2–8 October, as well as the wide array of events and programmes GUSA will be running during this time.  

Last year a lot of positive initiatives were introduced by GUSA to encourage inclusivity and improve gender equality within university sport. Sarah spoke about previous successes and the importance of continuing to improve. 

“It’s definitely really important to GUSA as a whole because actually, more than half our membership is female,” she said. “We really need to celebrate the importance of that and despite all the progress that has happened with women in sport to make it more equal and give better opportunities to women, there still remains a lot of work that needs to be done. We’re trying to both appreciate our successes and keep pushing forward as well.” 

One of the programmes GUSA are bringing back from last year is the Empower Hour (formerly called FNT (female, non-binary and transgender) hour). Launching this year and continuing throughout the semester, this will serve as an hour session where female, non-binary and trans-identifying people can exercise in a safer environment. 

Chloe commented on the importance of having this safe space outside of regular gym hours: “I think it is very important. That’s kind of a big part of my job this year and obviously, I’m working with performance. But the main thing I’m focused on is getting more people active, more people healthy, more people exercising.  

“The gym can be a very intimidating place, like when I first went to the gym, I didn’t enjoy it. I felt like everyone was looking at me, everyone was staring at me. It wasn’t until I’d been quite a few times a year that I started to feel more comfortable. So I think we’re really trying to appreciate that it’s not a nice environment and it can be very scary.”

The committee members also highlighted the rest of the wide array of programmes that they would encourage female-identifying people to get involved in. 

“We’ve got some women from Unicorn Cups coming in for two days and she’s gonna do a drop-in. You can ask her any questions you want. They’ll be handing out free menstrual cups and the uni’s now got access to some free period pants as well,” Chloe said. “Me and Sarah recorded a podcast with her, asking questions we’ve always wanted to know and that some people from GUSA put out in a survey. 

“We’ve got the uni boob team coming in and doing a coppa feel stall which raises more awareness of the importance of a correctly fitting bra and sports bra, since most women have never been correctly measured for their bra size. We’ve got the normal events we’ve got all week going on that people can message clubs to get involved with. We’ve got the Empower Hour starting this week and then we’ve got all the learn to lift stuff with Jaqui in the gym which happens most years as well. ”

Sarah added, “The learn to lift classes are taken by trained personal trainers. They are £2.50 and all proceeds are going to Glasgow and Clyde Rape Crisis this week which is really good. If you’re slightly less confident in the gym and just want some out of the way, private tutoring and to get a bit more confident then those are really good.” 

Gender inequality exists as a really impactful problem all year round. As such, really making the most of women in sport week and spreading as much awareness as possible over the seven days is incredibly important. Sarah commented on the importance of really spreading the message this week. 

“This week, we’re trying to make some noise and celebrate women and to keep pushing for small changes at a time. We’re not only gonna be fighting for this week, it’s just obviously, we’re trying to get out as big a message as we can this week, with the government campaign. 

Highlighting the Unicorn Cups drop-in session and the podcast they did with its organiser, Julie, Sarah said, “No question is a silly question with her she knows exactly what’s going on and she’s so enthusiastic about the topic. She’s more than happy to talk to anyone but I think that podcast really was beneficial. It brought up a lot of really interesting discussions that will have done a lot of good if they can make the subject a little bit less of a taboo subject and just sort of take away some of that stigma around it.”

“I would push anyone who is unsure, please go, please come down,” Chloe said. “The more numbers we get, the more we can then go and say there is a demand for this and push for more hours like that in the gym and show how much sport matters at Glasgow. Hopefully we can push for more funding and show that this is a really important cause. So please, come down and support if you can.” 


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