Global Leaders: Get More Girls in the Game!

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Jessica Malter, Women Deliver

Stephanie Platis, Global Health Strategies

Global Leaders: Get More Girls in the Game!

Leading Athletes & Advocates Urge Increased Investment in Girls’ Sports to
Address Gender and Health Inequalities

Against the backdrop of the FIFA Women’s World Cup, a coalition of leading athletes and advocates are calling on policymakers and sporting organizations worldwide to increase investments in girls’ sports programs as a path to improve gender and health equality globally. The Call to Action was launched on June 19th at the Girl Power in Play Symposium, hosted by global advocacy organizations Women Deliver, UNICEF, Right to Play, One Goal and Global Alliance for Improved Nutrition (GAIN).

“Too often, girls in poor and marginalized communities around the world face futures of limited opportunity, not to mention hardships like gender-based violence and early marriage,” said Susan Ngongi, UNICEF Country Representative to Ghana, who spoke at the Symposium. “Playing sport opens girls’ eyes –- first to their own potential, and then to all of the barriers they are ready to break down.”

The Symposium convened approximately 150 high-level policymakers, advocates, athletes and researchers to showcase the positive effects that girls’ participation in sports has on international development. Symposium plenaries and discussions reflected a growing consensus that, beyond the health benefits, sport programs provide girls with a supportive network of role models and peers, and can foster better health, education, nutrition, as well as chance to gain critical life-skills.

“It’s inspiring—the increase in confidence that girls experience after participating in sport and play activities” says Elyse Ruest-Archambault, of Right to Play. “Sports empower girls to see themselves as leaders and agents of change in their communities. More often than not, girls then use this newfound strength to help other girls find theirs.”

Participants and partners issued a formal Call to Action asking decision makers from all sectors – government, private, media, research and civil society – to respect, protect and fulfill the rights of girls and women to play sports. In particular, Symposium participants called on stakeholders to:

• Incorporate sports programs into global and national strategies to address gender inequality;
• Increase funding for girls’ sports programs;
• Support research on the impact of girls’ involvement in sports, particularly on their health and equality.

“Global leaders must recognize that girls’ and women’s sports are essential to driving sustainable development, as well as health and wellbeing” said Women Deliver CEO, Katja Iversen. “It’s simple: when girls are healthy, educated and empowered, they reinvest their strength and energy in their families, communities and nations. Now is the time to get girls off the sidelines and in the game.”

The Symposium was  part of a bigger effort to shine the light on the critical role sports programs can play in improving girls’ and women’s health and rights – and the positive ripple effect they have on communities. For more information visit the Girl Power in Play website and follow #GirlsCan on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram.


Women Deliver is a global advocacy organization bringing together voices from around the world to call for action to improve the health and well-being of girls and women. Women Deliver works globally to generate political commitment and resource investments to reduce maternal mortality and achieve universal access to reproductive health.

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To read more about #GirlsCan & The GIrl Power in Play Symposium please click here.

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