FIFA Pledges Half Billion for Women’s Soccer, Joins with UN

The U.S. Women’s Soccer Team is currently the world champion team, and is currently competing in the Women’s World Cup to hold its title. (Photo Credit: FIFA.com)

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.

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Benny Bonsu and GiveMeSport Team Up To Boost Women’s Sports Media

Benny Bonsu, award-winning sports journalist and advocate, who founded the Girls in Sports Foundation, will be Head of Women’s Sports for GiveMeSport. (Photo credit: Benny Bonsu, Twitter)

It’s another win for women in sports media!

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.

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GOAAAL! Visa Scores by Upping its Commitment to Women’s Soccer

VISA has committed to supporting the women’s team equally at World Cup this year in France. (Photo credit: US Soccer Federation)

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.

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Cedella Marley Backs Reggae Girlz as They Head for World Cup

Cedella Marley, author, designer, mother, and philanthropist, has been credited as the key donor behind much-needed support for the Jamaica’s women’s soccer team, Reggae Girlz. (Photo Credit: Cedella Marley on Twitter)

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.

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Helping Women Dancers Take the Lead in Choreography

Choreographer Penny Saunders (center left) with DDP founder and president, Liza Yntema (center right, with her arm around Saunders), with the cast of Saunders’ piece, “Testimony” at Grand Rapids Ballet, (Photo credit: Liza Yntema)

While women fill most of the shoes in ballet, leadership positions are still dominated by men, especially in choreography and artistic direction roles. A nonprofit called the Dance Data Project (DDP) aims to help more women in dance keep up to date with choreographic opportunities and ascend the ballet leadership ladder. With this goal in mind, in April 2019, DDP released a report on contemporary opportunities in choreography, along with monthly spreadsheets and calendar reminders of global deadlines. Earlier in 2019, it also published research on salary by gender for leaders in ballet, finding notable imbalances in favor of men, especially in artistic direction.

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How Can Philanthropy Do More to Support Women in Sports?

Golfer Maria Fassi greets young girl fans at the Augusta National Women’s Amateur event. (Photo credit: Augusta National Women’s Amateur on Twitter)

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.

USA Today asked a very pertinent question following the breakthrough: What if Augusta National had done this 20 years ago? This process of opening up golf to women could be so much further advanced today, if we could have gotten the ball rolling earlier.

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Why Robert Kraft’s Behavior Matters to Women’s Philanthropy

Audrey Morrissey, Associate Director and National Director of Survivor Leadership at My Life, My Choice, a Boston-Based organization that has received funding from Robert Kraft’s philanthropy. (photo courtesy of My Life, My Choice)

Do major league sports leaders have a responsibility to model respect for women in everything they do? This question is fresh on the minds of many due to Robert Kraft, philanthropist and owner of the New England Patriots, being charged with two counts of soliciting a prostitute in Florida, where he was allegedly engaging in sex acts with women at Orchids of Asia Salon.

Through his philanthropy, Robert Kraft has funded initiatives specifically aimed at ending sexual exploitation of women and girls. USA Today reports that Kraft gave $100,000 in 2015 to My Life, My Choice, a Boston-based organization that works on ending child sex trafficking. Some might ask how the same man can be both perpetrating sexual exploitation and funding initiatives to end it.

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The Benefits of Replacing Powerful Men with Women in the #MeToo Era

Women are cracking the glass ceiling and making it into top leadership positions amid the #MeToo Movement, according to new research, but the distribution of female replacements varies by geography and social sector.

In an article in the Houston Chronicle, authors Yan Zhang and Yoon Jung Kwon, a professor and Ph.D. student at Rice University Jones Graduate School of Business, argue that the phenomena of women replacing men in leadership roles holds great potential for signaling all sectors of society about changing gender norms. Even in heavily male-dominated sectors like major league men’s sports, a new era is dawning in which women’s leadership will provide a different paradigm.

From the article: 

Cynthia Marshall was hired as the new CEO of the Dallas Mavericks last February, with the mission to clean up the toxic culture of the franchise. 

Marshall’s appointment at the time was not an anomaly. According to data recently compiled by the New York Times, the #MeToo movement has brought down 201 powerful men (and three powerful women). Among the 98 men whose positions have been filled, half of their replacements were women. However, the percentage of female replacements was lower in Republican states than in Democratic states, and it was lower in government, politics and businesses than in media, entertainment and education.

An important point here for women donors to contemplate: moves like that of the Dallas Mavericks bring the #MeToo movement into the popular culture domain through sports, and this may be an effective way to create visible leaders for gender equality that contribute significantly to social change.

The research also highlights an important problem: women in the fields of government, politics and business need more opportunities to rise into leadership positions. Feminist philanthropists are uniquely positioned to push for this in the companies that they own or invest in, and by contributing to PACs, women candidates, and organizations supporting the government and business leadership pipelines for women.

Back to the article:

Replacing accused men with women amid the #MeToo movement offers important benefits to the institutions where the scandals were uncovered.

First and foremost, replacing an accused man with a woman immediately sends a signal to external and internal constituents that the institution is going to change its culture. Second, since most victims of the #MeToo movement are women, it is easier for a female replacement than a male to connect with the victims based upon their gender similarity.

In the case of the Mavs, minutes after accepting the job offer, Marshall joined the team’s owner Mark Cuban for a news conference, in which she told the media, “I want to do it for the sisterhood.” Such a commitment to the “sisterhood” is unlikely to be made by a male replacement. The connection between a female replacement and the victims can help the institution repair its stigmatized image and damaged relationships with constituents.

Seriously, try to imagine anyone other than a woman taking a CEO position and saying they are going to do it “for the sisterhood.” This kind of leadership sends major shock waves through the culture and helps shift our understanding of what it means to be a leader.

By finding ways to link women’s empowerment and safety with cultures that are known for being particularly male-dominated, like major league men’s sports, feminist philanthropists may find unique opportunities to create awareness and foster social change.

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