“The practice of sport is a human right. Every individual must have the possibility of practicing sport, without discrimination of any kind and in the Olympic spirit…” ~Olympic Charter 

WomenCAN International is the global voice for equality and equity in Olympic Canoeing.  We are an international group of women and men dedicated to promoting and creating equal, equitable and safe training, development and racing opportunities for women in Olympic Canoeing.  

Without equal international race opportunities and access to equitable training/development resources, women and girls find it difficult to justify the time, financial resources and effort required to train seriously. Even if they do persevere on their own, they remain at a significant performance disadvantage.  Additionally, without equitable international race opportunities, local clubs, coaches and parents, state and federal organizations, even corporate or private donors, find it difficult to justify supporting the athletes with the coaching, equipment or financial resources they require to train seriously.  Our mission has been to change this.


WomenCan was envisioned and founded by Sheila Kuyper – Canadian women’s sprint canoe pioneer and National Champion – in 1998 to push the cause of equality in Sprint Canoe, as part of Canada’s 2008 Olympic Bid. The WomenCan campaign for Olympic inclusion in Sprint included a powerful slogan “Power and Grace for 2008”.  Toronto was narrowly beaten out by Bejing for the 2008 Games.  


Pam Boteler became involved internationally in 2001, and subsequently expanded the mission to include Slalom Canoe - "Sisters of the Single Blade" - and focused on ensuring the original vision of WomenCan and “Power and Grace” lives on and our Olympic dream is realized.

What can you do around the world?

  • Join WomenCAN International on Facebook and Twitter – a place to connect women in canoe, and their family, friends, coaches and supporters from around the world.   This is a great way to share information, inspiration and encouragement.   Photos and video are welcome and encouraged!  Please "Like" "Share" and "Re-Tweet"!
  • Write to the International Canoe Federation and submit your support for Women in Olympic Canoeing
  • Lobby your National Federation to support training and racing opportunities and development camps for women and girls and ensure equal opportunities and equitable resources for men and women/boys and girls.
  • Lobby your National Federation to submit their support for equal opportunities at all levels for women in canoe in writing to the International Canoe Federation.  Request equal events at your local regattas, National Championships, Continental Championships, World Cups and World Championships.  For every male event, there must be a female event offered on the program.  Currently, at the Sprint World Championships, male and female kayakers and male canoeists have 8 events vs 2 events for women canoeists. At the Slalom World Championships, male canoeists have 3 events vs 2 events for women canoeists.
  • Lobby your National Federation and the International Canoe Federation to ensure women are included at all levels of the sport – including coaching, administration, and leadership.
  • Find corporations or private donors who are willing to support the development of athletes and/or start or support programs – locally, nationally or internationally.
  • Conduct development clinics – for coaches and paddlers.
  • Start and/or nurture canoe programs at your local canoe club.  Include girls and boys/men and women together, particularly in team boats.   It is as simple as taking a group of paddlers, canoes and paddles, to a river or lake and have some canoe fun!
  • If you need assistance, contact WomenCAN International.  We are here for you!

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For the Girls