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New campaign highlights winter safety

31st October 2023

Westminster run draws attention to the concerns women feel when getting active outdoors after dark and follows a parliamentary discussion to address the issue.

With the clocks going back, we kicked off our #LetsLiftTheCurfew campaign with a 5km run around central London to raise awareness about the safety issues that prevent women from getting active outdoors during the darker winter months. 

Women from running clubs across the capital - including London City Runners, Black Girls Do Run and This Girl Runs - took part in the initiative and were accompanied by a mobile digital screen displaying quotes from women conveying how they feel about getting active outdoors in daylight and in darkness. 

Launched in response to our latest research which found that almost half (48%) of women prefer not to be active outside after dark and six in 10 (60%) women worry about the risk of sexual harassment or intimidation, the campaign aims to address these concerns by calling for a safer and more inclusive experience for all women when exercising as the evenings draw in. 

This Girl Can's Let's Lift the Curfew campaign runners in central London

The campaign also highlights how nearly half (46%) of women change their outdoor exercise routines during winter to accommodate a perceived ‘curfew’, with the fear of being active outside in darkness making women feel ‘anxious’, ‘vulnerable’ and ‘unsafe’.  

As a result, two in five (40%) women say they feel limited due to this and more than a quarter (27%) feel sad or frustrated - a statistic our director of marketing, Kate Dale, is determined to change. 

“As daylight hours diminish, many women are opting to stay indoors due to safety concerns, resulting in decreased physical activity levels,” she said. 

“The impact of this on women's overall health and wellbeing is of massive concern and requires both attention and intervention. 

“It’s not right that, for nearly half the year, we feel we have fewer options to be active in the ways that work for us.  

“And even if we go out despite these fears, it’s harder to get the joy, freedom and confidence that physical activity can bring if you’re constantly looking over your shoulder or monitoring your surroundings. 

“It’s yet another emotional barrier, something else we have to manage if we want to build activity into our routines and lives.”  

Our parliamentary roundtable

The #LetsLiftTheCurfew launch follows a parliamentary roundtable on Thursday, 19 October, attended by thought leaders including Caroline Nokes MP and Kim Leadbeater MP, who identified key themes and action areas for making sport and physical activity safer for women. 

  • What did we discuss

    Five key themes and action areas emerged from the discussions. They were:

    • Culture – education around respect for, and allyship with, women is needed from a young age and women’s experiences must be taken seriously, including minor aggressions which can build to make women feel unsafe.

    • Reporting – ensuring proper frameworks are in place to report misogynistic behaviour of all levels in a range of environments.

    • Planning – planning environments, including sports and games areas in public outdoor spaces, e.g. skateparks, with a female lens.

    • Data – identifying and implementing opportunities to share safety information to inform solutions.

    • Community – acknowledging the power in partnerships to reach broader audiences with important messages. 

    Hide answer

Kate welcomed the opportunity this meeting provided to have a conversation about the challenges women face and develop a strategy to overcome these issues.

“Helping women feel safe when getting active is not a singular responsibility; we need everyone to engage with the issue,” she added. 

“Our parliamentary roundtable helped to facilitate this, bringing parliamentarians, experts, academics and influencers together to discuss how we can make sport and physical activity feel and be safe for women, 12 months a year.  

“It was a powerful session, and we are optimistic about the change we can bring about.  

“We must all work together to keep the conversation going, while bringing on board individuals, groups and organisations across wider society to understand their role in making women feel safer when getting active.” 

Passing landmarks including the Houses of Parliament and Big Ben, the runners sported t-shirts emblazoned with messages focused on how they feel about getting active outside during the longer winter nights. 

#LetsLiftTheCurfew forms part of our wider mission to close the Enjoyment Gap – which highlights the fact that 2.4 million fewer women than men enjoy getting active. 

Together, #LetsLiftTheCurfew

We’re calling on women everywhere to join the conversation.

Learn more