The Office of Secretary of State Hillary Clinton announced the launch of the Women’s World Cup Initiative: Empowering Women and Girls Through Sports, a joint initiative by the Bureau of Education and Cultural Affairs and the Secretary’s Office of Global Women’s Issues.
The initiative hopes to harness the power of sports and international exchanges as a way to employ women and girls worldwide.
The initiative will include a sports visitor program. This program will allow 18 teenage female soccer players and their coaches from Bolivia, Germany, Malaysia, Pakistan, the Palestinian Territories and South Africa to travel to the United States for a 10-day exchange. During that time the athletes will travel to New York City and Washington D.C. where they will meet with the U.S. Women’s National Soccer Team and play soccer with local teams. The delegation will also meet with local community organizations that provide sports opportunities for youth with disabilities and mentorships through a soccer and literacy initiative.
Another facet of the program is the creation of a 10-day exchange program for five sports managements professionals. This program will emphasize the administration of women’s and girls’ soccer programs. The program will allow the visitors an opportunity to exchange ideas and best practices in the management of sports and recreational programs. Some of the areas explored will be how athletic programs for women and girls promote leadership, teamwork, respect, self awareness and life skills and how sports and recreation programs can make a positive impact on at-risk and underserved youth.
Athletics not only provide women and girls with critical social skills necessary to navigate a world hostile to their very existence, they promote a vision of cultural equality and worth not often duplicated in other arenas. If we are truly working for a world where women and girls are valued simply for their humanity rather than seen as a commodity then these kinds of initiatives are key to creating and sustaining such a vision. Kudos to Secretary Clinton and the others involved for taking this important step toward such a world.
photo courtesy of KG Sand Soccer via Flickr.com