US Bolsters Efforts to Empower Women Through Sports

With its belief in the power of sports to bring people together across barriers of all kinds, the United States of America today expressed commitment to empower women through sports.

On her reamrks at DC today, US Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton says sports can bring about transformative change within people.

“Sports can make you stronger, tougher, more confident, more resilient, and those qualities stay with you long after you finish the race or the final buzzer sounds.” -Ms. Clinton

A quarter million children in Gaza are participating in the Summer Games 2011, a sixweek summer camp organised by the UN Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA).

She adds that for girls and women, sports can have a particularly powerful effect.

The United Nations has found that girls worldwide who play sports are more likely to attend and stay in school, more likely to finish their education, more likely to be in better health, and to earn higher wages during the course of their lives, Ms. Clinton noted.

Recognizing the importance of eradicating opportunity gap in women engaging in sports, Ms. Clinton states that the United States wants to support opening up more doors for girls and women in sports.

She announces a new collaboration between the State Department and espnW.

It’s called the Global Sports Mentoring Program, she stated.

The goal of the initiative is to identify women worldwide who are emerging leaders in sports: coaches, managers, administrators, sports journalists, marketers, and then match them with American women who are the top leaders in these fields.

“Through mentoring and networking we want to support the rise of women sports leaders abroad, who, in turn, can help nurture the next generation of girl and women athletes.” -Ms. Clinton

She stresses that this program is part of a larger initiative at the State Department, which is called Empowering Women and Girls Through Sports.

In addition to sports mentoring, the US government is sending sports envoys out into the world to play and talk with young women, and brings sports visitors to the United States.

“To support all these efforts, I’m pleased to announce the launch of our new Council to Empower Women and Girls Through Sports.” -Ms. Clinton

She notes that the United States has enlisted some remarkable women from outside the State Department, top American women athletes, coaches, journalists to help them advance its work on behalf of girl athletes worldwide.

Ms. Clinton cites that the United States wants to find ways to get more women and girls on the field, the court, the track, in the pool, the mat, wherever their interests and talents take them so that they can discover their strengths, develop their skills, experience that special satisfaction that sports can bring, win or lose.

“And we believe in the positive effects that can flow out of that experience for girls and women across their lifetimes, and, by extension, for their families and communities.” -Ms. Clinton

On February, the U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs and U.S. Soccer announced a series of Sports Envoy programs to take place in Algeria, Argentina, Malaysia, Morocco, and Venezuela this spring.

The Sports Envoy programs part of the “Empowering Women and Girls Through Sports Initiative wherein former members of the U.S. Women’s and Men’s National Teams will be dispatched across the world to engage women and girls on the soccer field.

Sports Envoys are current or retired athletes, coaches, or sports administrators who travel abroadon behalf of the United States to engage youth.

Sports diplomacy builds on Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton’s vision of “smart power diplomacy,” which embraces the use of a full range of diplomatic tools in this case the game of soccer to bring people together and foster greater understanding.

In March, Kate Sobrero and Linda Hamilton travelled to Algeria, while Amanda Cromwell and former USWNT coach Lauren Gregg will go to Argentina. Siri Mullinix and Lorrie Fair will travel to Venezuela this Mrah.

In April, Angela Hucles, Marian Dalmy, and University of Washington head coach Lesle Gallimore led Sports Envoy programs in Morocco.

While they are abroad, former National Team players, coaches, and administrators will conduct soccer clinics for underserved youth, including girls. The Sports Envoys will engage youth through the game of soccer.

The Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs’ SportsUnited Office leads the U.S. Department of State’s international exchange efforts to bring the global community together through sports. Since 2005, SportsUnited has sent over 150 athletes and coaches to more than 50 countries.

In June 2011, the U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of Educational and Cultural had granted 15 Indonesian female soccer players (ages 15 – 18), three coaches, and one administrator to the United States to build relationships with U.S. youth players and coaches.

Continuing its efforts to use sports as a means to empower women and girls worldwide, 14 Iraqi volleyball coaches arrived in the United States on December 2011 to participate in an international sports exchange as spearheaded by the U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs.

Secretary of State Hillary Clinton also acknowledged the launching of the 100 Women Initiative for empowering women and girls in the 21st century last March 2011.

Secretary Clinton always stressed that investing in women and girls is smart.

Mina Fabulous follows the news, especially what is going on in the US State Department. Mina turns State Department waffle into plain English. Mina Fabulous is the pen name of Carmen Avalino, the NewsBlaze production editor. When she isn’t preparing stories for NewsBlaze writers, she writes stories, but to separate her editing and writing identities, she uses the name given by her family and friends.