12 Oct 2017
Outdoor retailer REI Co-op is looking to create more opportunities for women and girls to connect with nature. The co-operative launched a new initiative called Force of Nature, which aims to advance gender equality in the outdoors.
As part of this commitment, REI will be running more than 1,000 events designed to get women outside and will be offering hundreds of REI Outdoor School classes, 19 new REI Adventures trips and three REI Outessa retreats.
The co-op will be allocating a total of USD $1 million to support 26 national women-focused non-profits across the USA.
Earlier this year REI commissioned a study to identify the issues faced by women, which prevented them from doing outdoor activities.
The research showed that 72% of women feel free while outdoors and see it as a way to escape pressures to conform to social norms. Around 69% of them also feel happier when they are outdoors.
The research also revealed that women who spend at least an hour a day outside on average feel happier and healthier than those who do not. However, more than six in ten women said that men’s interests in outdoor activities were taken more seriously than theirs.
"We believe a life outdoors is a life well lived for all. That means we support equality from the backcountry to the boardroom," says Jerry Stritzke, REI's president and chief executive.
“This year, with Force of Nature, we added a specific focus on groups that are creating new and inspiring ways to advance gender equity and inclusion using the outdoors as a platform. The Force of Nature Fund helped us identify hundreds of organisations doing incredible work, and we're proud to partner with our new grantees to learn and be inspired."
Recreational Equipment, Inc (REI) is a the USA’s largest consumer co-operative and was started by a group of 23 mountain climbing buddies.