WASHINGTON D.C. – February 1, 2017 – A coalition of champion athletes and civil rights leaders, including our CEO Benita Fitzgerald Mosley, arrive on Capitol Hill today to celebrate the 31st annual National Girls & Women in Sports Day (NGWSD), a national observance celebrating the extraordinary achievements of girls and women in sports.
The theme this year, “Expanding Opportunity,” will focus on issues surrounding the protection of rights secured under Title IX in anticipation of the law’s 45th anniversary and ensuring equal access to sports, particularly in underserved and minority communities. The NGWSD Coalition members the Women’s Sports Foundation (WSF), National Women’s Law Center, and Girls Inc. will meet with the Office on Women’s Health and other key government leaders on Capitol Hill in both the Congress and Senate. The briefing and panel discussion featuring professional and collegiate athletes, and Title IX experts will take place in the Capitol Visitor Center and is sponsored by the Office of Senator Patty Murray (D-WA).
Nationally, thousands of sports educators, coaches, athletic departments, recreation centers, community organizations, students and parents will come together to host hundreds of local events across all 50 states to celebrate.
Rep. Nita Lowey for New York’s 17th Congressional District presents the American flag to champion athletes Esther Lofgren (rowing) and Phaidra Knight (rugby), and Deborah Slaner Larkin of the Women’s Sports Foundation, in honor of the 31st anniversary of National Girls and Women in Sports Day
On January 31, representatives of the Coalition visited two girl-serving organizations in the D.C. metro area, DC SCORES and Girls Inc. of the Washington, DC Metropolitan Area, to observe how these organizations have benefited young women in their community through sports. Girls participating in both programs, which are recipients of WSF and espnW’s Sports 4 Life grant, had the chance to interact with champion athletes and advocates, as well as share with Coalition members the character and leadership skills gained by their participation in sports programs.
Despite Title IX’s impact in the lives of girls and women over the past 45 years, only 42% of high school girls are currently playing sports, leaving three-in-five girls without the opportunity to compete.
This shortfall has long-term consequences for girls’ health, academic success, and economic security. Research demonstrates that girls who play sports have better health, higher self-esteem, stronger leadership skills, greater academic achievement, and economic opportunity. Further, female athletes often derive greater benefits from athletic participation than their male peers.
Young athletes from Walt Whitman High School and AAU Team Swish meet with CEO of Laureus Sport for Good USA, Benita Fitzgerald Mosley, during her visit to Capitol Hill.
The courage, confidence and character gained through sports participation are the very tools girls need to become the strong leaders of tomorrow. Title IX is as essential now as it was in 1972 and the law needs to be upheld to ensure that no girl is deprived of the opportunity to achieve.
“Today we want to recognize the great advancements that have been made since Title IX’s enactment in 1972. At that time, 1/27 girls played high school sports. Today, nearly 45 years later, that number has grown to 2/5. However, there is still much to be done. 60 percent of girls do not have access and those are primarily girls of color who come from disadvantaged backgrounds,” says Grete Eliassen, WSF President and a six-time Winter X Games medalist.
“The stakes are too high, the benefits of sports too important for girls and women to sit on the sidelines.”
National Girls & Women in Sports Day (NGWSD) began in 1987 as a special day in our nation’s capital to recognize women’s sports. The day united premiere organizations and elite female athletes to bring national attention to the promise of girls and women in sports. In 1987, NGWSD also served as a remembrance of Olympic volleyball player, Flo Hyman, for her athletic achievements and dedication to promoting equality for women’s sports; Hyman died of Marfan’s Syndrome in 1986. NGWSD has since evolved into an event to acknowledge the accomplishments of female athletes, the positive influence of sports participation and the continuing struggle for equality for women in sports.
National Girls & Women in Sports Day is celebrated annually across all 50 states with community-based events, award ceremonies and other celebratory activities. NGWSD is organized by the members of the National Girls & Women in Sports Day Coalition. Champion women athletes have also contributed to annual NGWSD activities. For more information, please visit: www.NGWSD.org.