State Department Creates Global Sports Mentor Program for Women

The U.S. State Department joined ESPN’s women’s unit in creating a mentoring program that links emerging international female sports leaders and American women in the same fields.

Two days before the 40th anniversary of the passage of Title IX, legislation that banned sexual discrimination for any education program receiving federal financial assistance, U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton announced the creation of the “Global Sports Mentoring Program” to “support opening more doors for girls and women in sports.”

“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,” Clinton said at a State Department news conference in Washington.

Through a larger initiative, “Empowering Women and Girls Through Sports,” the State Department created a female sports council and will send envoys abroad to play and talk with young women, while bringing international female athletes to the U.S., Clinton said.

Members of the council include former Olympic swimmer Donna de Varona; Rutgers University women’s basketball coach Vivian Stringer; soccer player Julie Foudy; and Laura Gentile, the founder of ESPNW, the Walt Disney Co. unit that focuses on women’s sports.

Title IX forced schools to evaluate whether female students were being provided with equal participation chances.

Changes Dumped

U.S. President George W. Bush’s administration eased the policy in 2005. Five years later, the U.S. Department of Education, under current President Barack Obama, scrapped the Bush changes, saying they made it easier to deny girls an opportunity to play school sports.

“The Title IX decision was revolutionary,” Clinton said today. “All of us who care about opportunities for girls and women view it as one of the most consequential pieces of legislation for women in our country’s history. And it wasn’t only about sports, it was about making sure women had access to laboratories, classrooms, all that made up the academic, educational environment.”

ESPN’s networks will feature more than 175 hours of live women’s sports on June 23 to celebrate the anniversary.

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