After her daughter’s birth in 2017, tennis legend Serena Williams spoke out about her many postpartum complications. Williams experienced a traumatizing pulmonary embolism that forced her to undergo several surgeries after her initial C-section. The complications kept her in a hospital bed for a week after childbirth–and ruminating on the implications of her health issues for a lot longer than that.
Although harrowing, Williams’ story is far from unusual. The U.S. has the highest maternal mortality rate in the developed world. In particular, the immediate postpartum period is considered especially high-risk, due in part to the widespread inaccessibility of adequate postpartum care for both psychological and physiological complications.
The fight for equal pay for the U.S. Women’s National Soccer Team has garnered as much attention as their on-field exploits, which culminated in their Women’s World Cup win in France on July 7. While many companies are now talking a good game about gender equity, two sponsoring companies—Luna Bars and Secret Deodorant—have stepped up and pledged money to the women’s team and its players.
The members of the U.S. Women’s team filed a gender discrimination suit against U.S. Soccer in March, and the two sides have agreed to mediation. Former U.S. star goalkeeper Hope Solo filed a lawsuit against U.S. Soccer nearly a year ago, also charging the Federation with pay and other discrimination. Her lawyers filed a motion on July 22 in Northern California District Court that she be allowed to join the mediation.
The powerful video encapsulating the new mission of “The Collective” speaks to women around the world. As Wasserman Media Group’s newest initiative to support the advancement of female athletes and entertainers, The Collective is an agency focused on change.
Wasserman unveiled the new initiative on July 13. The Collective is a new division of the company dedicated to women’s representation, and it formalizes the media mogul’s long-standing commitment to the cause.
“The Collective is being launched to raise the visibility of women in sports, entertainment, and culture,” reads the press release. The new division will deliver “unique strategy, insights, and ideas for talent, brands, and properties focused on empowering and speaking to women.”
During the Women’s World Cup final match—won by the U.S. 2-0 over the Netherlands—and again during the ticker tape parade three days later in Lower Manhattan, the chant of “Equal pay, equal pay, equal pay” rose from the crowd.
The women collected about $250,000 each in bonuses for being members of the championship team, but had the men’s team done the same, the payday would have been many times greater. The 2018 Cup-winning French team got $38 million in prize money, while the U.S. women’s squad got four million for their victory.
The U.S. Soccer Foundation’s recently announced a new initiative called United for Girls, which aims to increase soccer opportunities for young girls and women from underserved communities.
United for Girls has an ambitious goal over the next three years: double both the number of girls impacted by the Foundation’s programs, and the number of U.S. Soccer Foundation female coach-mentors. Adidas, the initiative’s founding partner, is working with the Foundation to get more girls on the field, and combat their high athletics drop-out rate.
On June 7, 2019, at the end of FIFA’s first Women’s Convention, President Gianni Infantino announced the organization’s new commitment to dedicate $500 million to women’s soccer programs over the next four years. The announcement came on the heels of FIFA’s new partnership with UN Women, focused on promoting gender equity around the world.
Held on June 6 and 7 in the days before the kickoff of the Women’s World Cup, the FIFA Women’s Football Convention was the organization’s latest foray into empowerment for female soccer players. As the first event of its kind, the Convention gathered leaders from sports and politics in an unprecedented arena to discuss key issues surrounding women’s empowerment and development in professional football.
On May 29, 2019, GiveMeSport announced their decision to appoint Benny Bonsu as the new Head of Women’s Sport, building the foundation for the company’s new media outlet dedicated to covering women in sports.
GiveMeSport (GMS), a division of Bragg Gaming, is an online sports media outlet that provides real-time news and interviews for sports fans, focusing on exclusive content like interviews with players and managers. GiveMeSport Women will be GMS’s latest foray into female-focused media management, dedicated to complete coverage of women in sports.
The 2019 FIFA Women’s World Cup (WWC) will be held in France starting June 8. The month-long tournament is held every four years, and is the global marquee event for women’s soccer.
The U.S. team is favored to win the WWC, but the French, German, and English squads are also considered serious contenders. All 24 participating teams had to earn their spot in the WWC by playing in preliminary regional tournaments.
Visa has recently announced that it is making a “substantial investment” in the U.S. Women’s National Team. While the company is sponsoring both the U.S. women’s and men’s squads, it has pledged that at least half of the funds will be earmarked for the women’s side. This is significant, as typically the support from corporate and other sponsors for female athletics is dwarfed by the sponsorship dollars accorded male athletes. Visa is making a powerful statement in its commitment to equality in this area.
The New York Times recently ran a feature on Reggae Girlz, the first national soccer team from the Caribbean to qualify for the Women’s World Cup, happening soon (June 7 to July 7) in France.
The article, entitled The Women’s World Cup’s Other Inequality: Rich vs. Poor, reports that the coach of the Reggae Girlz has worked for free for five years, and many of the female players lack funds for the costs of being a professional athlete. The coaches have to buy them things like jackets to wear for training and other basics of the sport.
Good news for women in sports: for the first time ever, the Augusta National golf tournaments included women, in the form of the first Augusta National Women’s Amateur event. Finally, one of the oldest and most revered golf courses in America allowed women to officially compete on its greens.