About the Initiative
According to the United Nations, when girls participate in sports they are more likely to attend school and participate in society. When women and girls can walk on the playing field, they are more likely to step into the classroom, the boardroom, and step out as leaders in society. Drawing on the principles of Title IX— the landmark U.S. law that afforded equality for American women in sports and education–the initiative is designed to inspire participants to take these lessons of equality worldwide. Since 2012, the U.S. Department of State has worked with The Center for Sport, Peace, and Society at the University of Tennessee—the cooperative partner—to implement the Empowering Women and Girls through Sports Initiative. The Initiative comprises three primary pillars:
Sports Envoys: The sports envoy program mobilizes professional athletes, coaches, and administrators in a range of sports to engage underserved youth—particularly girls—on the court and in the community. During these outreach efforts overseas, sports envoys engage in dialogue on how sports plays into the development of leadership skills, health and wellness, inclusivity, and academic success. Working with the U.S. Embassies to organize these exchanges, the Department sends envoys in a range of sports to every corner of the world.
Sports Visitors: As another way to connect directly with underserved women and girls around the world, the sports visitors program brings young female athletes and coaches to the United States for a fast-paced sports exchange. During their two weeks in the United States, these participants engage in team-building exercises, have conversations on health and respect for diversity, and participate in clinics with their American peers. Throughout the program, the participants experience the United States through the lens of women’s sports and learn about how the lessons of Title IX can apply on a global scale. Under the Initiative, the Department brings over 80 sports visitors representing every region of the world for programs in sports ranging from track & field to basketball to sitting volleyball.
U.S. Department of State and espnW Global Sports Mentoring Program: In a joint collaboration, the U.S. Department of State and espnW teamed up to establish the Global Sports Mentoring Program. This flagship component of the Initiative pairs emerging women leaders from around the world with top American female executives in the sports industry. The program creates a new global network of women and girls who strive to create positive change in their home communities through sports. In order for the mentorship to play into a long-lasting positive impact worldwide, each emerging leader crafts a strategic plan with her mentor to put into action upon her return home with the common goal of creating sports opportunities for underserved girls and women.
The U.S. Department of State’s Council to Empower Women and Girls through Sports is another aspect of the Initiative. This Council is made up of American trailblazers in women’s sports who work to support the Department’s efforts to empower women and girls globally. Whether it’s on the softball diamond, in the newsroom, or in the classroom, they are helping women and girls from around the world to pursue their potential through sports.