Category Archives: News

Outdoorista – Inspiring Outdoor Women

In 2016 the Women in Adventure project surveyed hundreds of outdoor women… as a result I recently launched a new website, Outdoorista!

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The Women in Adventure project surveyed hundreds of outdoor women about their sources of inspiration, important issues, and any barriers to participation that they might have experienced during their outdoor adventures. Outdoorista is based on their feedback, it includes the content outdoor women said they would like to see…

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Outdoorista – Inspiring outdoor women Continue reading

Moon Climbing – Made in Sheffield range showcases local designers & artists

It’s not often you find products entirely locally designed and made, but the new Moon Climbing ‘Made in Sheffield’ range is exactly that. The bespoke, distinctively styled products made by Sheffield’s local artists and designers draw on the city’s climbing heritage, and will carry a ‘Made in Sheffield’ logo.

The products launched include the S7 Retro Chalk Bag, S7 Rope Bag, and S7 Musette – S7 being the Nether Edge postcode at the heart of Sheffield’s climbing community.  Continue reading

It’s official! Sport climbing IN Tokyo 2020 Olympics

The International Olympic Committee (IOC) has announced that sport climbing is one of five new sports to feature in the Tokyo 2020 Olympics, along with karate, skate boarding, surfing, and baseball/softball.

The announcement comes as a result of a successful proposal submitted by the International Federation for Sport Climbing (IFSC), a non-profit organisation whose main objective is to develop and promote climbing competitions around the world.

The BMC/Climb Britain is the IFSC member federation for Great Britain. They have supported the development of the proposals that the IFSC put to the International Olympic Committee.

Now the decision has been taken, Continue reading

Women’s Climbing Symposium 2016 Announced! #WCS16

Last year I went to the Women’s Climbing Symposium (WCS), an event “designed to inspire and develop women’s climbing through collective climbing experiences, the latest research, and the best coaching.”

My lasting memory has been of the incredible positive energy of all the women attending as well as those on stage. I was excited to hear that this year’s event will take place at The Depot, Manchester on 8 October. Continue reading

Sheffield: The Outdoor City strategy

The outdoors industry is about more than ‘harnessing economic potential’ and in developing the city’s future strategy our vision can be cultural as well as economic.

Sheffield: The Outdoor City website was recently launched to promote Sheffield as the UK’s leading destination for people seeking outdoor adventure, city culture, and rural escapes. It is written by a range of contributors from Sheffield’s outdoors communities on the themes of Run, Walk, Climb, and Ride.

As I wrote my contribution to The Outdoor City I didn’t initially realise that it is part of a strategy launched by Creative Sheffield and Marketing Sheffield (parts of Sheffield City Council) to rebrand and revitalise Sheffield’s outdoors industry. Continue reading

#ShAFF2015 Sheffield Adventure Film Festival – Women in Adventure Panel and networking, 21 March 2015

Having previewed some of the films in the Women in Adventure category I was excited to attend the ShAFF networking event to hear the women that made and appear in the films talking about their experiences. Festival organiser Lissa Cook was keen to explain that the theme of Women in Adventure was something that ran right through the heart of the festival, not a separate or minority part of it. The panel and networking event provided a forum to discuss issues specific to women, and the aims were celebration, inspiration, sourcing, conversation, and networking.

The event started with a celebration of some of this year’s films, showing clips from the Women in Adventure category (made by or featuring women). Selected by ShAFF judge Claire-Jane Carter, they demonstrated the wider themes of the festival, some of them thoughtful, emotional, funny, or that played with the concept of gender roles and what we expect of women. Danielle Sellwood of the Women’s Sport Trust introduced the discussion, reminding us with some shocking statistics that as with many industries there is still a way to go before women have equality of opportunity and all that comes with it – professional recognition, sponsorship, funding, and equal levels of participation. This led to wider discussion in form of Q&A with the panel.

The WIA panel members, Danielle, Nikki, Jen, Mina, Brenda, Squash, and Steph

The WIA panel members, Danielle, Nikki, Jen, Mina, Brenda, Squash, and Steph

One of the critical questions addressed whether it is necessary or counterproductive to categorise ‘women’s’ films? For some the focus on gender may not feel helpful or relevant – in some cases even patronising. The panel recognised the responsibility of filmmakers to consider the way they represent individuals in the editing of their films – are negative stereotypes enforced if we see women crying or expressing strong emotions? Freelance producer and director Brenda Piekarski is aware that there is power in the choices made by filmmakers as they edit and interpret what they capture. With filmmaker Jen Randall, she discussed a ‘movement’ in film making away from action and focusing on storytelling. She described it as a search for authenticity and truthfulness, telling the story of the individual whatever that may be. The requirement for authenticity and quality was reflected in the selection process where there was no positive discrimination, every film was judged by the same demanding criteria. Having selected the films on merit though, there is a purpose in identifying levels of representation of women.

Increasing representation and inclusion isn’t just about high profile women, but as Danielle says “you can’t be what you can’t see.” We need more stories to be spread as widely as possible – and this means more sponsorship and support. Women that are making a career out of something that they love, work hard at and excel in should be recognised for it. As adventurer Squash Falconer and stunt woman Steph Carey explained, in the moment of action they are not aware of their gender, and their achievements don’t need to be increased or diminished because they happen to be female. Some women in high profile positions do feel obliged to make things better for the women that come after them, and to achieve this there are several issues to tackle. This includes raising women’s confidence and sometimes challenging the way that we perceive ourselves.

It is exposing to share, and it requires women to be brave enough to share their stories. US Ultra Runner Nikki Kimball in Finding Traction tells a deeply personal story about how running helps her survive depression. Professional climber Mina Leslie-Wujastyk in Project Mina temporarily breaks down under the pressure to achieve, demonstrating that confidence can be an issue no matter what your level of ability. Women may feel that their stories aren’t interesting, aren’t worth telling, or worry about how they will be perceived, but women like Nikki and Mina are leading the way for other women. The moments of vulnerability are where we all relate and connect, through that connection comes inspiration.

The event ended with a networking session, an opportunity to put names to faces and for people within the industry to meet. In future the aim is that it will not be necessary to specifically promote women due to gender inequality, and ShAFF is working towards a ten year plan. The outdoors industry is fortunate that there are women and men with the vision and the passion to effect real change. Thank you to ShAFF for starting this conversation and for inviting us to be a part of it.

Details about the event and ShAFF in general are here : http://www.shaff.co.uk/shaff-fringe/women-in-adventure-network/

Because #thisgirlcan ! A national campaign by Sport England, January 2015

This week Sport England launched a campaign “to celebrate active women who are doing their thing no matter how well they do it, or how they look” www.thisgirlcan.co.uk.  It features women participating in activities like cycling, zumba, and climbing. It’s so liberating to see these real women, and I have personally been reflecting on how important it is to have female role models to encourage and inspire me.

Although I train and climb with equal numbers of men and women, I particularly value the time I spend with female friends. We are more evenly matched in terms of strength and performance, which means that we participate on an equal footing and are more likely to share common goals to work towards.

I find it empowering to take decisions and plan together, and feel especially proud of what I have achieved through team work with my female friends, whether climbing a hard route or navigating a race in the hills. Beyond training and performance, being active together creates real quality time, shared experiences, and lays the foundations for strong and supportive friendships.

In the media and coverage of the outdoors world I generally find strong women’s voices are less common. I don’t know if that is because there are proportionally fewer women participating, whether fewer women seek to publicise and share their adventures, or whether they struggle to have their voices heard in stereotypically more masculine environments. Or maybe I just haven’t been looking in the right places.

I don’t need my role models to be exceptional in terms of performance. It’s great to celebrate women that are at the top of their game and pushing the boundaries, but regardless of your level of performance I love to see the places that you are being active, and the things that you are doing, because if you can do it, so can I.

How women are presented in the media and online is important, and This Girl Can feels so right because it has a message that all women can relate to. We need to see realistic images of healthy women. We can celebrate using our female bodies without sexualising them. We do not need make up or air brushing to make us look healthy and vibrant.

Packing light and having access to minimal facilities has challenged my assumptions about the ‘essentials’ of life, including realising that in certain circumstances make up has no practical use. Pushing my physical and mental limits has taken me to a place where there is no room to think about how I look. Being active gives me a sense of wellbeing and achievement that feels so good that it pushes out the insecurities about how I might look while I’m doing it.

It can be a vulnerable feeling to share your thoughts and experiences, but I believe that we are all role models and mentors, encouraging and inspiring each other. I would like to see active women increasing our representation, and this means building confidence in our skills and abilities, finding our voices and being comfortable sharing to a wider audience. It means recognising that our opinions and experiences have value.

My small part of it is to keep sharing the joy of being active outdoors in all seasons in the best way that I can, and to keep reading and being inspired by you…