As part of their efforts to empower women and girls through sports, Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton and ESPN President John Skipper announced today the U.S. Department of State and espnW Global Sports Mentoring Program.
Harnessing the power of mentoring, the Department, in collaboration with espnW, will connect international and American women to build capacity and create sustainable sports opportunities for underserved women and girls worldwide. In the fall of 2012, approximately 20 women, ages 25-40, who have been identified as emerging leaders in sports, will travel to the United States where they will be paired with leading American women who work in a sports-related field. Participants may include women who administer or manage sports programs; manage and/or coach sports teams; work in mid-to-upper management roles for corporations with a sports-related focus; work at non-governmental organizations (NGOs); and specialize in sports journalism and mass communication, sports marketing, and sports medicine.
This mentoring program is a cornerstone of the Department’s broader Empowering Women and Girls Through Sports Initiative, which aims to increase the number of women and girls worldwide who are involved in sports. It builds on Secretary Clinton’s vision of “smart power,” which embraces the full range of diplomatic tools—in this case mentoring and sports—to empower women and girls and foster greater understanding.
The U.S. Department of State and espnW Global Sports Mentoring Program is based on the growing evidence that women and girls who play sports are increasingly likely to excel not only on the playing field, but also in life. According to a 2007 United Nations’ report entitled “Women 2000—Women, Gender Equality and Sport”— women and girls’ participation in sports is an important social and economic empowerment tool:
· Women and girls acquire new professional networks, develop a sense of identity and access new opportunities to become more engaged in school and community life;
· Sports serve as a vehicle to improve women’s and girls’ leadership roles and participation in decision-making;
· Sports convene people across borders, cultures and belief systems, and can promote greater tolerance and understanding among individuals and communities;
· Girls’ participation in sports can challenge gender stereotypes and discriminatory attitudes;
· Sports teams and organizations provide an excellent opportunity to provide information and promote dialogue on the importance of girls’ education; and
· Studies show a direct correlation between girls’ participation in sports and higher education and employment; and that a single year of primary education correlates with a 10-20 percent increase in women’s wages later in life; a single year of secondary education results in a 15-25 percent increase.