February 6 marks the 27th National Day of Women and Girls in Sports.
Today in Esteli, Nicaragua, girls from under-served areas are on the softball diamond, fielding grounders, running out base hits, and learning how sports can improve their health and their performance in the classroom.
In Donetsk, Ukraine, girls were on the basketball court, looking for the outlet pass, grabbing rebounds, and working as a team.
In Knoxville, Tennessee, 12 young, female basketball players from Senegal recently concluded a 10-day international exchange. While in the United States, they saw the scope of sports in America: they competed shoulder-to-shoulder with their American counterparts, and they witnessed history as the University of Tennessee raised the banner honoring their legendary women's basketball coach, Pat Summitt.
As we segue from the successes of 2012 -- from the 40th Anniversary of Title IX to the London Olympic Games -- the U.S. Department of State and an army of private-sector partners are pushing the limits. We are mobilizing a host of professional American female athletes and coaches. We are bringing under-served girls to the United States to engage with their American counterparts. Teaming up with espnW, we are using the power of mentorship to pair emerging leaders with top-tier American women in the sports world.
We are taking the lessons of Title IX -- of opportunity and equality -- and going global.
Why you may ask?
When women step foot onto the playing field, they are also more likely to step into the classroom and step out into society. According to the United Nations, when girls receive at least one year of primary education, they increase their earning power by 10-15 percent.
When all of society contributes, we are more likely to have more stable economies, more stable communities, and a more stable world.
Today, in every region of the world, we are working to engage, inspire, and empower women and girls through sports. Not because it's the right thing to do -- although it is -- but because it is the smart thing to do.