In case you missed it, International Women’s Day was March 8th. I know, I know….there’s a day for just about everything. International Ask A Question Day. International Buzzard Day. Dress Up Your Pet Day. And yes, these are all real. You can look them up on the internet.
But International Women’s Day is more substantive than you might think. First of all, it’s not some calendar-filler trumped up to promote this or that. It’s been around since the early 1900’s, and is actually an official holiday in many countries around the world. And second, anyone who reads my blog knows that I’m a feminist — as I think all women should be. The unfortunate fact is that women’s pay is not equal to that of our male counterparts, women are still not present in equal numbers in business or politics, and globally, women have it far worse than men in terms of education, health, and freedom from violence. It’s true that women are better off now than they’ve ever been before. But it’s also true that a lot more needs to be done, and the more attention we can give this, the better.
So how does this relate to skiing? Stay with me here, because it does.
I spent International Women’s Day doing something pretty cool: participating in an event sponsored by SheJumps.org at Magic Mountain, Vermont.
I’ve written about SheJumps before. Started by Lynsey Dyer (I interviewed her here), Claire Smallwood, and Vanessa Pierce, SheJumps is dedicated to encouraging women to become involved in outdoor sports. If this sounds frivolous, let me assure you — it’s not. We’ve all heard about why physical activity is good for women: it reduces our risk for cancer, dementia, and osteoporosis, and decreases muscle loss. But there’s more, too. Studies show that girls and women who participate in sports have higher levels of confidence and self-esteem and lower levels of depression. They also have a more positive body image and experience higher states of psychological well being than girls and women who are not involved in sports.*
You’d think that’d be enough to get us off the couch. Unfortunately, no. Each week, there are 1.5 million fewer women than men participating in sports or physical activity. Data show that over time, girls drop out of sports at twice the rate of boys — and at a younger age. Today’s girls are bombarded with images of external beauty instead of confident, strong female athletic role models. Peer pressure can be hard for girls at any age; when that pressure isn’t offset with strong encouragement to participate in sports and healthy physical activity, the results may lead girls to stop exercising entirely.
SheJumps.org seeks to reverse this trend with activities and educational programs geared to women and girls. In the winter, this involves events at ski areas around the country designed to get women out on the slopes. It’s a mission that’s near and dear to my heart. After all, one of the reasons I started TheSkiDiva.com was to give women skiers a way to connect with one another so they’d keep on skiing. The forum gives us a means to talk with one another about skiing in a way that we can relate to, discuss women’s gear with people who actually use it, and get the support we need to stay in the sport. Today we have more than 4,000 registered members, so it’s apparent that there are a lot of women who enjoy the site.
You might want to check out SheJumps and see what they have cooking in your area. It’s a terrific organization, it’s a worthy cause, and I encourage you to give them your support.
Besides, it’s just plain fun.
Here’s the SheJumps group at Magic (I’m fourth from the right, with a big smile on my face). Don’t you wish you’d been there?
*Women’s Sports Foundation