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Paragliding is an aerial sport in which the pilot flies a flexible canopy without a motor or rigid structure. It was born in 1965 as a variant of parachuting. Today it attracts enthusiasts from all walks of life. Among them, women occupy an increasingly important place, despite the challenges and prejudices they may encounter. Here we look at the history, role and impact of women in the world of paragliding.

History and development of women in paragliding

Women have been involved in paragliding from the outset, but they were in the minority and often relegated to the background. Above all, they had to contend with gender stereotypes that associated paragliding with virility and risk-taking.

Things have changed over time, thanks to the determination and talent of women paragliders. They have proved that they are capable of flying as well as men, and even better in some cases. They have also helped to change attitudes and promote gender equality in the sport.

Initiatives and programmes to support women paragliders

Many paragliding schools offer courses reserved for women to encourage them to take up paragliding. In these centres, women can learn or improve their skills in a friendly, supportive atmosphere.

Every year, women’s paragliding competitions are organised to enable women to compete against each other and gain recognition. There are also associations that bring together women paragliders, such as Ciel Aventure, which organise events and meetings to share their passion and create links.

Portraits of prominent women in paragliding

Women who have left their mark on the history of paragliding include :

  • Ewa Wisnierska Cieslewicz
  • Seiko Fukuoka Naville
  • Kari Castle,
  • Nicole Fedele.

Ewa Wisnierska Cieslewicz is a German paraglider who survived a flight in a thunderstorm at an altitude of over 10,000 metres in 2007. Born on 23 December 1971 in Nysa, Poland, this passionate paraglider was ranked number 1 in the world for women in 2008. She also won the European Championship that same year.

Seiko Fukuoka Naville, meanwhile, has dominated the world paragliding circuit for several years, with numerous titles and records to her name. In 2014, for example, she won the European and French championships. In 2015, she became world champion. This passionate woman began paragliding in 2001 in Japan.

Kari Castle is also an American paragliding legend. She has broken several world records for distance and altitude in paragliding.

As for Italian pilot Nicole Fedele, she is the first woman to exceed 400 km. She set the world record for women’s paragliding: 401 km, on 3 November 2015. She also achieved a record 376.5 km in 2013.

The challenges faced by women in paragliding

Women are still in the minority (around 15% of licence holders in France). This can lead to feelings of isolation and exclusion. These women also have to deal with discrimination or sexist remarks from some men, who do not recognise their skills. It’s not always easy for them to reconcile their passion with their personal and professional lives.

Some women report a lack of support or encouragement from people around them who don’t share their passion for paragliding.

Impact and importance of diversity in paragliding

Despite the challenges facing women paragliders, they remain undeterred and continue to enjoy the sport with pleasure and enthusiasm. In doing so, they bring a richness and diversity to the sport that benefits all those involved. The presence of women diversifies the styles and approaches to hang-gliding, bringing out qualities such as finesse, sensitivity and creativity. It also encourages exchange and sharing between pilots, creating a friendly and supportive atmosphere.

Women who practise this activity can also inspire others to embark on this rewarding adventure. You can start with a first paragliding experience with one of our instructors to discover this exciting sport. They are trained to guide you in complete serenity.

The future of women in paragliding

Women still have a long way to go to achieve equality and visibility in paragliding. However, they can count on their motivation, talent and solidarity to get there.

Paragliding is constantly evolving. These sportswomen can contribute to technical innovation and the promotion of the sport. They can also pass on their passion to future generations, encouraging young girls to follow their dreams.

In conclusion, paragliding is an activity that women can pursue despite many constraints. They also benefit from specific support, enabling them to progress and flourish in their passion.

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