This month, the U.S. Department of State Global Sports Mentoring Program, in partnership with espnW and the University of Tennessee Center for Sport, Peace and Society (CSPS), will welcome a class of 15 women from 15 different countries as part of the women’s empowerment and sports diplomacy initiative.
The women will participate in a four-week virtual program focused on the theme, “Leading in Times of Crisis” and work closely with the CSPS, the U.S. Department of State, espnW, and mentors from the country’s top sports sector organizations, including the Big East Conference, ESPN, Gatorade, the NCAA, and the National Hockey League. They will engage in virtual opening and closing week activities, a virtual mentorship, complete one asynchronous GSMP-U Course focused on leadership development and create a Multimedia Final Project outlining strategic plans for applying key take-a-ways from the program. All aspects of the GSMP will focus on equipping participants with the skills, knowledge, and resources they need to create strategies aimed at long-term positive change in their home countries, specifically to advance gender equality in the sports industry.
Week one will focus on the CSPS “Better World” curriculum with the CSPS team of educators, researchers, and journalists leading sessions on sport for social change, empowerment, partnership development, and Title IX. The participants will also begin developing business plans for creating and sustaining initiatives focused on sport for social change in their local communities.
During their second week, the women will virtually attend the 12th annual espnW: Women + Sports Summit. The women use the two-day event, which brings together the leading voices of change for women in sports, to focus their plans while learning from industry influencers.
The women are then mentored for two weeks by female senior executives from prominent sports organizations where they develop business skills and refine their strategic plans for social impact. At the end of the program, participants will present their Multimedia Final Project and receive feedback and support from program mentors, partners, and sports sector stakeholders.
Among the 15 women participating in this year’s program are athletes, lawyers, sports administrators and executives, coaches, and social entrepreneurs, all of whom already provide opportunities for thousands of girls to become leaders in the sports arena and in the boardroom.
For its success in promoting gender equality worldwide, the GSMP received ESPN’s Stuart Scott ENSPIRE Award in 2018, an honor that “celebrates people that have taken risks and used an innovative approach to helping the disadvantaged through the power of sports.”
This 9th cohort of GSMP participants includes women from Brazil, Egypt, Greece, Hong Kong, India, Israel, Kosovo, Mexico, Morocco, New Zealand, Nigeria, Saudi Arabia, South Africa, Tanzania, and Turkey.
Mentor organizations for the 2021 GSMP include the Big East Conference, Creative Artists Agency, DoubleVerify, ESPN, Gatorade, Minnesota Lynx and Timberwolves, NCAA, New Balance, the NHL, Saatchi & Saatchi, the United States Tennis Association, the University of Connecticut, and the Women’s Sports Foundation.
The CSPS has served as the cooperative agreement partner for the U.S. Department of State’s Global Sports Mentoring Program since 2012 and has worked alongside 209 alumni from 86 countries in both its women’s empowerment and disability program exchanges. The U.S. Department of State’s Sports Diplomacy Division in the Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs (ECA) taps into the shared passion for sports around the world to support U.S. foreign policy priorities. Programs are strategically designed to empower young people and underserved populations so that they can develop leadership skills, achieve academic and workplace success, promote respect for diversity, and contribute to stronger, more inclusive, and stable communities. In all of its sports diplomacy initiatives, ECA coordinates closely with regional bureaus and with Public Affairs officers at U.S. Embassies and Consulates to identify international participants, design the exchanges, ensure a strong focus on foreign policy priorities, and support the activities of sports exchange alumni.
The program will begin on October 11 and will conclude on November 11. To follow along on social media, join us on Facebook Twitter, and Instagram and join the conversation using #GSMP2021 and #EmpowerWomen.