A Wollongong women’s only run club is empowering women by providing them safety to run in otherwise fearful conditions.
For many female runners, the constant possibility of street harassment and violence taints the sense of independence that running can bring.
The Good Energy Run Club wants to demolish this fear and give women the opportunity to start their morning positively.
Sociologist Fiona Grey told The Conversation that she has observed how women are forced to be concerned about their safety.
“Women and girls are routinely having to evaluate what the right amount of panic is, to direct their movements and actions in public spaces,” she said.
Numbers released by The Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) in 2021 suggest that sexual abuse is the most common form of street harassment.
The findings from the report indicate that one in two women (53 per cent) had experienced sexual harassment during their lifetime, which is twice the rate of men (25 per cent).
The owner of the run club, Paige Pollard said that the run club’s biggest aim is to provide women with a safe space to run.
“Most of the time we start our runs before the sun rises and that can be quite daunting in an open public space,” she said.
“I want the club to be a safe space where the girls don’t have to have the fear of street harassment and I feel it has achieved that.”
Ms Pollard believes there is empowerment when women come together to support each other.
“We are all up early in the morning to do what we love together,” she said.
“The support that comes from the girls is enough to diminish any fears.”
Local running communities are receiving positive feedback for encouraging women to exercise in a supportive and harassment-free environment.
Ms Pollard said she wanted the club to be exclusively for women.
“The thought that women choose not to exercise and seize the morning because they are scared of the possibility of harassment has never sat right with me,” she said.
“The club is for women only because I want the girls to have a space to feel free too.
“I want women to feel empowered and have the same opportunities,” Ms Pollard said.
The run club gathers three times a week at 6 a.m, with girls running anywhere from three to five kilometres.
For more information, visit their Instagram page here.
Taleah Redwick and Kerstyn Walsh talk about the benefits this club has served them.