REI (Recreation Equipment Inc.) has been a leader in the outdoor recreation community for years. REI’s programs, such as the #OPTOUTSIDE initiative and the commitment to continue assisting in making the outdoors more accessible through trail development and organizational support, show that the company has additional motivations to strictly business profits. The company has continually shown support for programs focusing on outdoor recreation and education, natural resource conservation and preservation, and stewardship of wild places.
The Force of Nature Campaign looks to continue driving change in the outdoors, this time through altering the expectations built around gender in outdoor recreation. According to the 2017 National Study on Women and the Outdoors:
- 85% of women see the outdoors as a key to better physical and mental health and overall well being.
- 7 in 10 women say they would spend more time outside, if not for barriers like weather, time, or having someone to go with.
- Women who were more encouraged to go outside as young girls are more likely to value time outside. Women who participate in outdoor recreation consistently cite mothers and female role models for encouraging them to participate in outdoor recreational pursuits.
- 60% of women consider men’s interests in the outdoors to be taken mores seriously than women’s.
Jerry Stritzke, REI’s CEO, provides four approaches to overcoming obstacles relating to gender in outdoor recreation.
- Changing the Narrative through highlighting the accomplishments and achievements of women adventurers and athletes.
- Creating Community through organized events, classes, trips and retreats that are focused on connecting women and girls to better develop a network of outdoor enthusiasts.
- Closing the Gear Gaps through increased production of women’s specific outdoor gear that is the same quality as men’s.
- Investing in Community that creates opportunities for women and girls in the outdoors. The “Force of Nature” Fund looks to invest $1 million into organizations that support gender equality in the outdoors. The Fund has already provided $500,000 to programs such as GirlTrek and the YMCA’s BOLD/GOLD program. This month the Fund opened another application process for the remaining $500,000. Click on on the hyperlink provided for application details Apply Here