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2018 GSMP program participants flex their muscles for a group photo.

CSPS Leads Award-Winning Women’s Empowerment Program

UT’s Center for Sport, Peace, and Society welcomed a class of 15 women from 14 countries as a part of the 2018 Global Sports Mentoring Program international women’s empowerment exchange.

The women spend five weeks in the United States working closely with the CSPS, the US Department of State, espnW, and mentors from the country’s top sports sector organizations, including the National Hockey League, the San Antonio Spurs, ESPN, Fox Sports, and the NCAA.

“The long-term impact of this seven-year partnership with the Department of State and espnW becomes more and more evident every day,” said the center’s director, Sarah Hillyer. “What we’ve been able to collectively envision and execute stands as a living, breathing example of the power of teamwork.”

“We are proud to be part of a team that continues to invest significant financial and human resources to promote the empowerment of women and girls through sports worldwide.”

Amani Manassra, Akhona Makalima, and Tega Onojaife hug and smile after working out.

Amani Manassra (Palestine), Akhona Makalima (South Africa), and Tega Onojaife (Nigeria) hug after a workout at Ambitious Athletics

During the first week of the program, participants work through the Better World curriculum with the center’s team of educators, researchers, and journalists, who lead classroom sessions on sport for social change, empowerment, creating partnerships, and Title IX. The CSPS also partners with local organizations that provide hands-on training in executive leadership, martial arts, adaptive sports, and other topics they can integrate into their projects back home.

The women then travel to spend three weeks being mentored by female senior executives from prominent sports organizations. During this time, they develop business plans for creating and sustaining initiatives focused on sport for social change in their local communities. At the end of the program, the participants present their plans to GSMP representatives in Washington, DC.

Among the 15 women participating in the program are athletes and coaches, sports administrators and executives, journalists, and social entrepreneurs, all of whom already provide opportunities for thousands of girls to become leaders on the field and in the boardroom.

For its successful women’s exchange, the GSMP recently received ESPN’s Stuart Scott ENSPIRE Award, an honor that “celebrates people that have taken risk and used an innovative approach to helping the disadvantaged through the power of sports.”

The GSMP 2018 class poses for a photo with Maryland Athletics and Special Olympics Prince George' County student-athletes

The GSMP 2018 class poses for a photo with Maryland Athletics and Special Olympics Prince George’ County student-athletes

The 2018 GSMP: Empower Women through Sports class consists of women from Bangladesh, Brazil, Nigeria, Pakistan, Palestine, Russia, Serbia, South Africa, Vietnam, and Zambia, as well as first-time countries Israel, Malaysia, Myanmar (Burma), and Timor-Leste.

The 2018 mentor organizations are the Big East, Burton Snowboards, Creative Artists Agency, ESPN, Fox Sports, Gatorade, Google, the National Hockey League, NCAA, Saatchi & Saatchi, Spurs Sports & Entertainment, the United States Tennis Association, and the University of Connecticut.

The program began September 23 and will conclude in Washington, DC, on October 31. To follow along on social media, use the hashtags #GSMP2018 and #EmpowerWomen on FacebookTwitterFlickr, and Instagram.