Amani Manassra is a coach at Pal-fit CrossFit Ramallah. She is the first female coach at the only CrossFit affiliate in the Palestinian Territories, and seeks to create health and physical fitness programs for Palestinian women and their families.
Born in Jordan, Amani had lived in Iraq, Tunisia, and Egypt before her family settled in Ramallah when she was a teenager. She had grown up swimming, but the constant movement left her physically inactive and, in her words, lazy by the time she entered university. In 2009, she began aerobics and kickboxing. She started seeing changes in her body and her health. However, a lack of proper training led to an ACL injury. During rehabilitation, her physical therapist, Basel Qatamesh, the owner and head coach at Pal-fit, invited her to try CrossFit as a way of improving her movement.
Since she first joined the gym in 2013, Amani has acquired several certifications, including specializations in gymnastics, weightlifting, strongman, and kid’s training. She and her team coach upwards of 120 men, women, and kids, and organize city-wide fitness competitions as a way of promoting healthy lifestyles in Ramallah and other Palestinian communities. In addition to traditional CrossFit classes, Amani coaches a twice-weekly CrossFit Kids class, which she began in 2017.
With the cultural value placed on family, Amani believes it is important to reach women, who can impact the nutrition and health decisions of their households. In the Palestinian Territories limited opportunities exist for women to participate in physical activity, and many are obese—a major public health problem. Amani hopes to develop a program for women where they can come and work out together, as well as mingle and learn about healthy lifestyle choices. By participating in the GSMP, Amani will learn the vital leadership, business, and management skills she needs in order to develop this program and make it successful and expansive, with both in-person and online components.
Outside of CrossFit, Amani enjoys traveling and spending time with her husband, Fuad, and their cat, Shlooki.
Akhona is the first certified female soccer referee in South Africa, where she officiates for FIFA, the Premier Soccer League, the SASOL Women’s League, and the South African Football Association (SAFA). Akhona uses her position as a women’s sports pioneer to encourage and influence young South African women to participate in sports at all levels.
Raised in a poor community in Eastern Cape, Akhona became known in her village at a young age for her speed. She was encouraged to run track and play soccer and other sports. A lack of sports programs and leagues, however, led her to pick up refereeing. By the age of 23, Akhona was traveling the country refereeing matches. Eventually, she became FIFA-accredited, the only female referee to pass the association’s fitness test and referee in South Africa’s top professional soccer league. Akhona will officiate at the 2018 Africa Women’s Cup of Nations in Ghana, and is hopeful of one day refereeing at the World Cup.
In Akhona’s home village and many other communities across South Africa, low-income women suffer from a range of problems, such as obesity and disease caused by inactivity, teen pregnancy, domestic violence, and lack of access to education. Akhona believes sports can alleviate or prevent these issues. In 2016, she launched a program, Inter-Refs, where she teaches girls from 7 years old and above about the Laws of the Game of soccer with the hope of creating a generation of women to follow in her footsteps.
By participating in the GSMP, Akhona seeks to expand on her current work developing female soccer referees, as well as establish her own women’s sports academy. Focused on empowerment and mentorship, she hopes to offer opportunities for girls from disadvantaged backgrounds to engage in and pursue opportunities in soccer, rugby, netball and other sports.
Akhona earned a national diploma in human resource management from King Hintsa FET College. Outside of refereeing, she hosts the “Women’s Sports Buffet” program for Keith Ngesi Radio, serves as a nationwide motivational speaker, and dreams of one day opening her own smoothie bar.
Soe Soe Myar is deputy director of sport and physical education for Burma’s (Myanmar’s) Ministry of Health and Sports. A global taekwondo instructor, official, and former World Junior Champion, she received the 2007 Woman of the Year Award from the Myanmar Sports Writer Association for her work as a volunteer encouraging youth sports participation. She seeks to use her platform to develop sports programs for rural youth and seniors.
Growing up in Loikaw, Soe Soe found taekwondo by accident. During summer vacation when she was 11 years old, her mother sent her and her sister to sign up for basketball at the local sports hall. Once she arrived and saw other girls her age practicing martial arts, she signed up for taekwondo instead. It worked out well for Soe Soe, who won several international medals, including gold at world juniors in 1998, gold at the 1999 Asian Taekwondo Tournament, and two silvers (2003, 2005) and one gold medal (2007) at the Southeast Asian Games.
When Burma was announced as host of the 2013 Southeast Asian Games, Soe Soe knew she wanted to be involved. She was hired at the Ministry of Sports, where initially served as a sport organizer. In 2015, Soe Soe was assigned to the planning and statistics section, where she monitors projects such as stadium and sports hall building and maintenance.
Outside of the ministry, Soe Soe has developed an extensive national taekwondo program focused in rural communities, such as Loikaw, Bawlakhe, Shadaw, and Hpasawng. She develops curriculum, which she provides to junior trainers in these communities who then work with between 250 to 300 youth in weekly training sessions. The program has developed athletes who have competed and won medals at the international level for Burma. Soe Soe’s immersive role in the world of taekwondo earned her a place as a technical official at the 2016 Rio Olympic Games.
By participating in the GSMP, Soe Soe hopes to improve her leadership, fundraising, and sports management skills in order to ensure the sustainability of her national taekwondo program. She also plans to develop a healthy-aging program for adults and seniors in Burma.
Soe Soe earned a B.A. in Economics from the Yangon University of Distance Education, an international relations diploma from the Yangon University, and a M.S. in Global Sport Management from Seoul National University. In her free time, she enjoys jogging, visiting pagodas, and watching extreme sports.
Samar Khan is the first Pakistani woman to ride a bicycle atop Mt. Kilimanjaro, Africa’s highest peak, and the first woman to cycle along the 14,760 foot-high Biafo Glacier, the world’s third largest non-polar glacier. An outspoken advocate and outdoor enthusiast, she strives to transform Pakistan into a sport-positive, healthy country where girls and boys have equal access to play.
Born in the town of Khas Dir, Samar did not have much exposure to sport or physical activity growing up. Like many young Pakistani women, she found herself in an abusive marriage and working a job in a call center to make ends meet. That is when she learned about a paragliding training course being offered by the Army. Completing her paragliding certification opened Samar’s eyes to a different world. She divorced her husband and began her pursuit of empowerment for both herself and other women around Pakistan.
In 2014, Samar launched her own website, Samarkhan.pk, and began traveling across Pakistan to lead projects, seminars, and outdoor expeditions intended to train and educate people about the importance of sports activities. She is a two-time presenter at TEDx conferences in her country, and serves as a brand ambassador for several initiatives related to gender equality and environmental protection.
By participating in the GSMP, Samar seeks to learn how she can take the empowerment she has experienced through sports and use it to increase nationwide female participation in competitive and recreational sport. In a country where cultural discrimination against women is still prominent and few female sports role models exist, Samar hopes to maximize her platform to normalize and elevate sport for Pakistani women.
Samar earned a M.Sc in Physics from Federal Urdu University. Outside of adventure sports activities, Samar is passionate about protecting the environment and regularly volunteers at Clean and Green Pakistan events. She also enjoy mixed martial arts training, nature walks, and fresh fruit salad and chocolate ice cream.
Maja Ciganovic is president and co-founder of the Center for the Affirmation of Women in Sport (CAZS), a non-profit gender equality organization in Serbia, and creator and coordinator of the online Zdravo Buduća Sportistkinjo (“Hello Future Sportswoman”) campaign. She seeks to bridge the gender equality gap in Serbian sports by showing how women are making a positive difference in the sports world.
While Maja played many sports growing up, it was in sixth grade when her family settled in Novi Sad that she began playing basketball. She won a Serbian championship with her juniors team in 1997. Basketball seamlessly transitioned into a life of activism for Maja, who has spent more than a decade in various leadership roles for Vojvodina Women’s Basketball Club, the Novi Sad Gender Equality Commission and City Assembly, and the Vojvodina Regional Institute of Sport and Sports Medicine. In 2015, Maja co-founded CAŽS, the first Serbian non-profit organization specializing in gender equality in sport. The organization’s mission is to promote and encourage women’s participation in all aspects of the Serbian sports system—across disciplines and positions—, regardless of age, socioeconomic status, race and ethnicity, religion or sexual orientation.
Maja seeks to demonstrate to policymakers that sports and physical activity are crucial for developing healthy lifestyles, leadership, discipline, and teamwork skills in girls and women. By participating in the GSMP, she will have access to a network of female leaders who can provide valuable insight related to fundraising, gender equality policy, promotion and advertising, and social media. She also hopes to expand campaigns, such as Hello Future Sportswoman, where she can creatively engage with the public to promote female role models and the importance of media coverage of all sportswomen and women’s sports.
Maja earned a bachelor’s degree in physical education and basketball from the University of Novi Sad. Outside of work, she enjoys spending time in nature. She wants her legacy to be, simply, love.
Carol Barcellos is a reporter for TV Globo and the host of “Extreme Planet.” A nationally-renowned journalist and advocate for gender equality in media, she is passionate about inspiring young women across Brazil to break gender barriers through sports.
Born in Rio de Janeiro, Carol has always lived an active life. As host of “Extreme Planet,” she participated in several physical challenges, including participating in the North Pole Marathon and Atacama Desert Ultramarathon. In 2008, she published a book, Breaking the Limits, about the extreme challenges she undertook and how they apply to overcoming other challenges in life. She has completed six half marathons and two international marathons in Jerusalem and Buenos Aires.
In addition to her television work, Carol founded Destemidas (“Fearless”), a project she runs in collaboration with Fight for Peace, after covering the 2017 Boston Marathon. As part of the project, she provides athletic training for more than 30 young women in Rio de Janeiro’s underserved Maré community, as well as a safe space to discuss issues of of gender and empowerment. Carol is also one of the women behind #DeixaElaTrabalhar (#LetHerWork), a Brazilian national campaign for challenging sexual harassment against women in the workplace.
By participating in the GSMP, Carol seeks to discover ways to grow her Fearless project to reach a greater number of girls in Rio de Janeiro, as well as provide more expansive opportunities for empowerment through education and employment.
Carol earned a bachelor’s degree in journalism from Fluminense Federal University. Outside of work, she enjoys running, yoga, and traveling, and spending time with her 6-year-old daughter.
Virginia is master facilitator for SportImpact and executive director of the Sport for Life project in Timor-Leste, leading a nationwide movement of young volunteers from local municipalities, training them in facilitation skills, and coaching them to replicate the project in their communities. She seeks to create a new generation of female sports leaders in Timor-Leste.
Growing up in a traditional Timorese environment, Virginia didn’t have much exposure to sports. While the boys played outside, she was expected to stay inside the home and assist her mother with domestic duties. Whenever she wasn’t looking, she’d sneak out to play in the streets. After finishing secondary school, Virginia took courses in English, Portuguese, computer studies and public management at a local NGO, and soon thereafter founded the Grace Center, where she offers language instruction to children and their parents.
Virginia began working with SportImpact, a business-minded social enterprise that works with national sports entities in development, consulting, training, and event management, where she took over its Sport for Life project. Around the same time, she also founded Zumba Dili, her own initiative to empower women through exercise in 2015. Virginia’s classes have grown to more than 25 women today. Her many achievements led her to be named Timor-Leste’s representative at the 9th UNESCO Youth Forum in Paris, as well as an Asian youth representative for the UNESCO General Conference 38th session.
In a country where female voices and expression still encounter suppression, Virginia is committed to providing a safe space for women to connect, learn, and develop leadership skills that will create a culture shift toward gender equality. By participating in the GSMP, she will learn vital sports marketing and networking skills, as well as how to engage with stakeholders to sustain and expand her projects.
Virginia is pursuing a bachelor’s degree in business with a concentration in economics from Joao Saldanha University. In her free time, she enjoys nature, Zumba, and spending time with her family.
Lyubov is deputy director and non-commercial partnership manager for S.K. Dinamo, Russia’s most prestigious and historically successful field hockey club. She seeks to empower a new generation of strong, young Russian women through field hockey.
Raised in Yekaterinburg, Lyubov was exposed to alpine skiing as a 2-year-old girl and often skied with her father, who was one of the leaders in developing the sport in Russia. An athlete from her youth, she was introduced to field hockey after university and has worked to develop the sport since 2004, when she joined S.K. Dinamo. In her role, Lyubov takes lead on organizing domestic and international sports events, including the EuroHockey Indoor Club Tournament, and collaborates closely with the Russian Hockey Federation and International Hockey Federation on logistics, administrative support, and media for the club. She also organizes annual diplomacy-themed sports festivals with international partners such as India and Japan.
While S.K. Dinamo currently boasts 50 professional players, 600 players in its training school, and works closely with a nearby Olympic Reserve School to train 100 adolescent and teenage girls, there are still challenges facing the growth of field hockey nationwide. The sport is professional, though there are only six teams in the country’s Super League with vast distances to cover for games. There is also a lack of adequate facilities, and a need for increased sponsorship to sustain the sport.
By participating in the GSMP, Lyubov hopes to learn professional skills—fundraising, sponsorship, and sports promotion—to contribute to the professional development of field hockey, as well as to show the ways the sport contributes to healthy lifestyles and personal growth for women.
Lyubov earned a higher degree in Oligophrenic pedagogy and speech therapy from Ural State Pedagogical University. Outside of field hockey, she organizes music festivals, such as Ural Music Night, Russia’s largest annual music festival with an audience of more than 250,000 people.
Júlia Vergueiro is the owner and CEO of Pelado Real Futebol Clube.
Born to a soccer-loving family in Sao Paulo, Julia grew up within walking distance of Sao Paulo FC’s stadium and has regularly attended games with her family since she was a child. After university, she worked as a sustainability analyst for a national bank. Despite a promising careerpath, Julia quit three years into the job and instead joined a friend, Bibi Martins, who had started a soccer group for women named Pelado Real Futebol Clube.
Officially founded in 2011, Pelado Real grew more serious with Julia and Bibi’s partnership. Soon parents began contacting the group about training their young daughters. Then, in 2015, the club partnered with Italian soccer champions Juventus to run a camp for girls in the city. Julia and Pelado Real now run their own Girls Soccer Clinic, Soccer School for Girls, and regular training sessions for adult women. In total, more than 200 girls and women participate in the club’s monthly activities.
With the club’s rise to prominence, Júlia has worked to ensure its sustainability by establishing partnerships with local and national partners for field space and equipment. The club acquired NIKE as a ball and uniform sponsor, and was invited by the company to model its 2018 World Cup soccer jerseys for its Brazilian website and stores.
By participating in the GSMP, Júlia hopes to further demonstrate the potential of women’s soccer in her country and the way supporting its growth can positively impact brands. Through the increased visibility of her work, and the business skills and networking she will be exposed to on the exchange, she will be able to implement projects, such as a new scholarship program for Brazilian female soccer players to study in the United States.
Júlia earned a bachelor’s degree in international relations from the Pontifical Catholic University of Sao Paulo. Outside of work, she enjoys playing soccer, the beach, and spending time with her 1-year-old mutt dog, Bedoya.
Diana Mutakafimbo is a sports reporter for the Zambia Daily Mail, one of Zambia’s leading national daily newspapers. She seeks to mentor and empower young female athletes to become successes inside and outside of sports.
Growing up in Ndola, Diana never imagined she’d make a career for herself in sports. While she was on attachment at the Times of Zambia, she was placed at the sports desk, where she initially struggled. Thanks to the mentorship of a senior female sports reporter, Brenda Katongola, she persevered to become one of Zambia’s most prominent sports journalists. She most recently covered the Gold Coast Commonwealth Games, and has previously reported from the Youth Olympics and CAF Africa Cup of Nations qualifiers.
In Zambia, sports remain a male-dominated field. Gender inequality surfaces in many ways, particularly sexual abuse scandals and cultural pressure to quit sports for domestic life. In her work, she strives to cover the story of female athletes and provide them a level of recognition that improves their career prospects, and normalizes women’s sports for the Zambian public. She uses her column, “Rising Stars,” to share stories of women such as Catherine Phiri, a former WBC Bantamweight champion and the first Zambian woman to win a major professional boxing belt, who went on to earn a scholarship to study sport management in Italy thanks to her sporting achievements.
By participating in the GSMP, Diana will gain the support she needs to develop a grassroots organization for women’s empowerment through sports, in order to create more success stories like Catherine Phiri in Zambia.
Diana is currently pursuing a bachelor’s degree in international relations and development from Mulungushi University, and earned a diploma in public relations from the National Institute of Public Administration and certificate in journalism from Evelyn Hone College. In addition to her work at the Daily Mail, Diana serves on the board of directors of Special Olympics Zambia, where she oversees media. Outside of work, she enjoys gardening, aerobics and spending time in the countryside.
Daphna Goldschmidt is the chairperson of Hapoel Katamon Jerusalem Football Club. The first woman in Israel to serve as chairperson of a professional sports club, she is a pioneer in the movement for creating management and other sports leadership opportunities for women in her country.
Born in Jerusalem to a family steeped in the city’s soccer culture, Daphna was a founding member of Hapoel Katamon, the first fan-owned club in Israel, in 2007. Her work at the club focuses in two key areas: developing programs that promote peace and shared living between people of diverse communities, and creating programs that foster gender equality through sports.
In addition to serving as chairwoman, Daphna has played a key role in launching the club’s media department and its girl’s and women’s program. It’s girl’s and women’s program is the only such program being offered in Jerusalem and currently has more than 80 participants. The club’s under-14 team has finished second in the Israeli Championship for two consecutive seasons, and Daphna is confident that if she can continue growing the program the club will be able to launch a senior women’s team by 2019.
Daphna is also involved in one of Hapoel Katamon’s other key initiatives, its Neighborhood Leagues, which bring together individuals from underserved areas of Jerusalem—secular and religious Jews, Muslims, and Christians—for sports activities. This league includes weekly practices, tutoring sessions for participants, and a monthly tournament focusing on fair play and sportsmanship.
By participating in the GSMP, Daphna hopes to learn from American women in sports leadership about the ways she can overcome obstacles faced by women in Israel to sustainably grow women’s soccer. She also seeks to discover tools and resources for community outreach.
Daphna earned a B.A. in Political Science from the University of Haifa. Outside of work, she enjoys yoga, pilates, studying history, and key lime pie. She and her husband, Ron, have a rescue dog named Jes.
Tra Giang Nguyen, or “Jane,” is a professor in the Institute of Sport Science and Technology at the University of Sport Ho Chi Minh City, and team general manager for the Ice Hockey Association of Thailand. She seeks to develop sport projects, such as events and specialized courses, focused on physical education for people with disabilities and increasing female participation.
Born in Ho Chi Minh City, Jane was a top youth table tennis player. After completing a bachelor’s degree in physical education, she moved to Thailand where she was exposed to sports management and psychology for the first time. Now, Jane is the first person in Vietnam teaching sports from a non-physical education perspective, including courses in sports management, marketing, economics, and tourism. Outside of the classroom, she organizes major sports conferences and events throughout the year for the student body. In 2017, Jane organized the International Conference on Sport Management, the first university sports conference ever held in Vietnam, with more than 200 professors representing 28 countries. She is currently working on a major project inspired by her time in Sport for Tomorrow, an initiative of the Japanese government. The project, “Walk and Run for Tomorrow” concludes in Ho Chi Minh City with a marathon and other racing events for students with and without disabilities.
In addition to her university work, Jane served as general manager for Thailand’s men’s and women’s national ice hockey teams at the 2017 Asian Games in Japan, where the men won the gold medal, and 2017 Southeast Asian Games in Malaysia, where the men won the silver medal. She currently works within the association to secure funding to run ice hockey camps for girls and women.
Jane earned a Ph.D. in exercise and sport management from Burapha University (Thailand). Outside of work, she enjoys traveling, attending sports events, and drinking green tea.
Tega Onojaife is a sports producer and presenter for Smooth 98.1 FM Radio and the founder of the Ladies in Sport Conference. She seeks to create sports leadership and journalism opportunities for girls and women in Nigeria.
Born and raised in Lagos, Tega was a mischievous girl and was often in trouble with her parents for misbehaving. Her punishment was to sit quietly in time out beside her dad, who would often watch boxing—a punishment she soon came to enjoy. Before long, Tega fell in love with the sport, and later soccer and tennis. After completing university, she began her career as an investment portfolio manager. However, the allure of sports was still strong, and after four years she quit and took a training course in television and radio presentation with Mark Eddo Consulting.
Beginning her sports journalism career as a soccer pundit, Tega was soon covering live broadcasts of the English Premier League, UEFA Champions League, and Africa Cup of Nations. In 12 years, she has covered nearly every major soccer event and served as one of a small number of female pioneers in the Nigerian sports journalism, joining the International Sports Press Association (AIPS) and serving as secretary of the Events Committee of the Sports Writers Association of Nigeria.
In 2016, Tega founded the Ladies in Sports Conference, a yearly conference networking female sports professionals in Nigeria. The conference has grown to include more than 120 participants, including registrants from Kenya, Ethiopia and Zambia, and has gained international recognition by forming partnerships with La Liga in Spain and Women in Football in the United Kingdom. By 2020, Tega would like to expand the conference from a one-day event centered around gender to a three-day sports business forum, exposing businesses to the emerging market of women’s sports. In addition to growing the conference’s impact, Tega hopes her participation in the GSMP will allow her to create a platform where coaches, athletes, administrators, and policymakers in African sport can meet with corporations and private businesses to form mutually beneficial strategic partnerships.
Tega earned a bachelor’s degree in physics education from Lagos State University. Her favorite academic subject was government, as she always aspired to leadership. Tega’s favorite color is blue, and she enjoys relaxing to music.
Ashreen is brand manager of marketing for Unilever Bangladesh Limited and shooting guard/former captain of the Bangladesh women’s national basketball team. She seeks to empower and enable women to play basketball regardless of age, ethnicity or socioeconomic status.
Growing up in Dhaka, Ashreen was introduced to basketball through her father, who organized sports events at her school. She found a group of local girls who were also interested in sport and they began training together in the evenings at the federation’s training academy. Without a proper set-up for competitive women’s basketball, Ashreen took the situation into her own hands while at North South University. She and another student recruited girls for the school’s first women’s team, and by 2012 hosted Bangladesh’s first ever inter-university women’s basketball tournament. Two years later, Ashreen was given the university’s Best Female Athlete award.
As a member of the national team, Ashreen participated in the first South Asian Women’s Basketball (SABA) Championships in 2016, and captained the Kolkata-Bangladesh friendly series in India the same year. She balances her basketball career with her work for Unilever, where she oversees marketing for the brand Surf Excel/OMO, a detergent brand with a focus on encouraging outdoor activity for children.
In Bangladesh, conservative Muslim culture often comes into conflict with the growth of women’s sports, especially relating to academics and uniforms. Ashreen hopes to create a platform for women of all ages and backgrounds to play basketball by spreading the sport from the more progressive capital throughout rural parts of the country, where she will hold camps and clinics for girls.
Ashreen earned a BBA in Marketing and International Business and a MBA in Marketing from North South University. Outside of work and basketball, she is lead singer of the band Silverlight. An animal lover, Ashreen hopes to one day open a pet grooming clinic with her husband.
Chee Ee Laine is an international sports programming consultant and general secretary of the Malaysian Ice Hockey Federation. She seeks to create a sustainable and successful women’s ice hockey program in Malaysia.
Growing up in Kuala Lumpur, Elaine discovered ice hockey after her time as a figure skater. She moved to the United States to attend Western Michigan University, where she graduated with a bachelor’s degree in journalism, and during her time there became a fan of the NHL’s Detroit Red Wings. After returning home to continue her journalism career, Elaine became involved with the MIHF, where she has since become a prominent leader.
In her current role, Elaine is responsible for running the federation’s daily operations and serving as an international liaison to partnering federations throughout Asia and the International Ice Hockey Federation. Under her stewardship, Malaysia has won three gold medals internationally, including women’s gold in the 2018 IHF Challenge Cup of Asia Division 1. The federation has grown by nearly 500 percent in the past decade with more than 300 players at the youth and senior levels, including 50 players in the women’s program—a remarkable achievement for a country without a traditional winter.
Outside of the MIHF, Elaine has previously demonstrated her potential as an ice hockey leader by overseeing the integration of more than 200 athletes and officials from South Korea, Ukraine, Malaysia, Thailand, and Serbia under a training program supported by the Korean Olympic Committee. She has also organized five international ice hockey events in Malaysia.
By participating in the GSMP, Elaine seeks to acquire the support necessary to develop a network and plan for increasing female sports leadership in Malaysia and ensuring the long-term growth of Malaysian Ice Hockey.
Elaine earned a master’s degree in global sports management from Seoul National University. Outside of ice hockey, she is an avid skydiver with more than 50 jumps.
The U.S. Department of State believes that sport is a vehicle to advance the status, liberty, and well-being of women, girls, and marginalized people at home and abroad. Through its partnership with espnW and the University of Tennessee’s Center for Sport, Peace & Society to implement the GSMP: Empower Women through Sports program, the Department of State aims expand the footprint of Title IX and its message of equality and opportunity for women to every corner of the world. This sports diplomacy effort allow new generations of girls to experience the many benefits of sports participation: increased confidence, improved health, greater employment opportunities, and enhanced academic success.
The U.S. Department of State and espnW GSMP: Empower Women through Sports is based on growing evidence that women and girls who play sports are increasingly likely to excel on both the playing field and in life. According to the research, women and girls’ participation in sports is an important social and economic empowerment tool: 1) 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; 2) Sports serve as a vehicle to improve women’s and girls’ leadership roles and participation in decision-making; 3) Sports convene people across borders, cultures and belief systems, and can promote greater tolerance and understanding among individuals and communities; 4) Girls’ participation in sports can challenge gender stereotypes and discriminatory attitudes; and 5) Studies show a direct correlation between girls’ participation in sports and higher education and employment.