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Celebrating all kinds of being active

‘This Girl Can – Victoria’ celebrates women who are all kinds of active, writes Melanie Fineberg.

We’re getting behind women who are giving it a go and getting active no matter how well they do it, how they look or how sweaty they get.

This is more than a physical activity campaign. This is about empowering women to feel comfortable in their bodies and in public spaces, and getting active whenever, wherever and however they choose – without worrying about being judged.

Living an active life is important in many ways – for physical health, mental wellbeing and social connection. Yet, according to the National Health Survey, more than half of Victorian women aren’t active enough and one in 10 women do no activity at all in a typical week.

To make the biggest impact to women’s physical activity levels, VicHealth committed to influencing change at two levels: changing individuals’ behaviour, while also changing the environments that support health and wellbeing.

When women do decide to get active – to get back into a sport or try something new – it’s important for that to be a positive experience, or they may never try again. Which is why ‘This Girl Can – Victoria’ is so much more than just a TV ad.

VicHealth identified a key insight about a fear of judgement that lives at the heart of ‘This Girl Can – Victoria’ and this is visible in every element of the campaign. [See breakout box below.]

This critical insight was used to influence the practices of organisations delivering physical activity and sport, to make them more welcoming and inclusive for women.

A guide was created to provide simple advice to physical activity providers,
which explains the fear of judgement and aims to build empathy. It outlines practical, low-cost changes organisations can make to help women have a positive experience when getting into, or returning to, exercise.

VicHealth funded six sporting organisations to create new sports products and programs specifically designed to appeal to less active women. These new programs are social, flexible and fun, breaking down barriers for less active women.

As part of the campaign, 23 local councils received funding to promote ‘This Girl Can – Victoria’ and to run a range of physical activity events in their local area. This included ‘come and try’ and beginner sessions, panel discussions as well as classes targeted at specific groups of women including mums, women with disabilities and women from different cultural backgrounds. Local councils also undertook localised marketing activities to spread campaign messages.

‘This Girl Can – Victoria’ aims to help women manage their fear of judgement by showing a range of everyday women being physically active regardless of their background, ability, age or body shape.

There are 25 ambassadors who feature in this campaign, and it is their authentic, diverse stories which make this campaign so powerful and which resonate so strongly with women.

These ambassadors not only feature in the TV advertisement, but they were also interviewed on camera talking about their own fears about, and experiences of, getting active. To reach more women, these videos are available on the thisgirlcan.com.au website and have been distributed via targeted social media advertising and shown at events.

They have also been made accessible to registered and approved campaign supporters for them to play on screens in facilities (such as gyms and leisure centres) and at local events.

Their stories – and the research behind the insight – were ‘pitched in’ to media outlets and reached more than eight million people via print, radio, TV and online media when the campaign launched.

In its first year alone, ‘This Girl Can – Victoria’ inspired more than 285,000 women to get active. That’s one in seven women, right across the state.

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But there’s still work to be done; there’s a long way to go until every woman across Victoria is empowered and inspired to be active.

Author: Melanie Fineberg, Social Marketing Manager, VicHealth

For more information: ABS. 4364.0.55.001 – National Health Survey: First
Results, 2017-18. Victoria. Available from: https:// www.abs.gov.au/ausstats/abs@.nsf/Lookup/ by%20Subject/4364.0.55.001~2017-18~Main%20Features~Key%20Findings~1

  This article also appears in the August-October 2019 edition of AMSRS publication, Research News – Impactful Insights. Check out the rest of the articles in this edition.

Photo by Jeffrey F Lin on Unsplash
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