By Emer Carton
On Thursday the 16th December 2021, Canoeing Ireland welcomed the new cycle of Bridge the Gap Ambassadors to the initiative. Joined by Jenny Egan and Hannah Craig sharing their leadership journeys in paddling so far, and words from CI President Lynda Byron, and CEO Moira Aston to welcome them to the programme, it was an evening full of positivity and a real passion to follow in the footsteps of outgoing ambassadors. The team shared some of their experiences and discussed what the role means to them.
Bridging the gender gap in paddlesports is an important goal in our strategic plan and we are beginning to see results after the fantastic influence that both the previous ambassador group, and the wider network of members have been implementing since the beginning of this initiative. In 2019 our membership numbers showed that 33% were female, in 2020 that number was risen to 35%, and now in 2021 it is 40%.
While this is a fantastic increase, this only represents overall membership numbers. It doesn’t take into account how many female instructors, committee members, athletes, juniors or coaches are still operating as minorities in their smaller paddling communities. Bridge the Gap aims to continue to put supports in place until we are seeing gender balance throughout all areas of involvement.
The next cycle of Ambassadors will share their enthusiasm and passion for equity across all areas of involvement in the paddlesports community, with representatives from all disciplines, backgrounds, abilities and locations. This group of women will lead and represent as many women as possible and develop opportunities to engage these women in finding their pathway into a life-long sport, and community.