Empowering Women and Girls Through Sports Initiative

In February 2012, the U.S. Department of State announced a global effort to engage women and girls through sports.

The U.S. Department of State’s Empowering Women and Girls through Sports Initiative aims to increase the number of women and girls involved in sports around the world. 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.

Building on the lessons of Title IX global—of opportunity and equality—this initiative is compromised of three pillars: the U.S. Department of State and espnW Global Sports Mentoring Program; Sports Envoys; and Sports Visitors. These programs build on the United States global commitment to advance the rights and participation of women and girls around the world.

The Empowering Women and Girls Through Sports Initiative is comprised of three key components:
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U.S. Department of State and espnW Global Sports Mentoring Program

The U.S. Department of State and espnW Global Sports Mentoring Program, the flagship component of the Empowering Women and Girls through Sports Initiative, pairs emerging women leaders from around the world with top American female executives in the sports industry. This program creates a new global network of women and girls who strive to create positive change in their home communities based on the lessons of Title IX—of equality and opportunity—in sports.

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Sports Envoys

The sports envoy program mobilizes professional athletes, coaches, and administrators overseas to engage underserved youth—particularly girls—both on the court and in the community. During these youth outreach efforts, sports envoys engage in dialogue on the importance of sports in the development of leadership skills, health and wellness, respect for diversity, and peaceful competition. In 2013, the Department is sending nearly 40 envoys for basketball, soccer, softball, and fencing programs to Afghanistan, Brazil, Chile, China, Costa Rica, Iraq, Kazakhstan, Nicaragua, Russia, the United Kingdom, Ukraine, and Thailand.

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Sports Visitors

A key way to engage underserved women and girls around the world, the sports visitors program brings young athletes and coaches to the United States for two-weeks. Whether on the athletic playing field or in life, these young athletes and coaches participate in clinics, team building exercises, and conversations on health and wellness, respect for diversity, and peaceful competition with their American counterparts. This year the Department is bringing sports visitors from Colombia, Liberia, Lithuania, Pakistan, the Philippines, Saudi Arabia, Senegal, and Venezuela to the United States.

Chilean soccer participants.
Soccer in Santiago: Empowering Women and Girls through Sports in Chile

Former U.S. Women’s National Team Soccer Players Linda Hamilton and Kate Sobrero-Markgraf headed up a female-focused sports envoy program in Chile.