These Organizations Help Girls Sport a Solid Education

The 2012 Summer Olympics were labeled the Women’s Olympics. Women out-medaled men in the United States, China, and Russia; 44% of all athletes at the Olympics were women; and the first athletes from Saudi Arabia, Qatar, and Brunei participated in the Games this year. It was a huge accomplishment for women in sport -- 40 years after the passage of Title IX, it seems that women have finally arrived at the Olympics. 

These women are not just excelling on the field; they are productive members of their communities, trusted mentors, and have become smart business women. As I watched Abbey Wombach, Candace Parker, and Allyson Felix take home medals for the United States, it got me thinking about the role of sport in the lives of girls around the world and how sport plays such a large role in developing strong women.

Donna de Varona, a former Olympian and one of the first women sportscasters in history, told BCLC that her success in life stemmed from her time swimming for Team USA as a young woman.

Sport provides girls with higher self confidence, stronger team mentality, and increased work ethic. These character-building assets don’t just play out well on the field, but can catapult young girls into leadership roles in the classroom and eventually in the workplace. In fact, Donna de Varona, a former Olympian and one of the first women sportscasters in history, told BCLC that her success in life stemmed from her time in the pool and swimming for Team USA as a young woman. Sport gave de Varona the confidence, learning opportunities, relationships, and entrepreneurial mentality that she still relies on today.  

One organization making the connection between sport and opportunity is Bola pra Frente, a partner of BCLC’s Business Corps program in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. Bola pra Frente works with children and young adults, 42% who are female, to help sports success translate into education success. Youth involved in Bola pra Frente find that soccer helps them build on their learnings in math, reading, and computer skills and connects them to mentors, some of whom are famous soccer players in Brazil. Bola pra Frente is bolstering traditional education tactics with sport and finding great success in their methodology.

Unfortunately, the reality is that many girls around the world do not have access to organizations like Bola pra Frente or are not even permitted to attend school or play sport. In fact, according to National Academies Press, approximately one-quarter of girls in developing countries are not in school. In addition, those who are in school rarely complete secondary education. It has been found by the World Bank that an extra year of primary school boosts girls’ eventual wage by 10% to 20% and an extra year of secondary school, 15% to 25%.

October11th is the International Day of The Girl and BCLC's global conference will dedicate time to raise the profile of girls issues around the world.  

Nike, UN GirlUP, and Vital Voices are working to raise the issue that girls face around the world. And one BCLC company working to close the gender education gap is Intel. Intel is partnering with 10X10, which is creating a feature film and social movement campaign to raise the profile of the importance of investing in girls. Intel also recently launched the She Will program, a focused campaign to educate and empower girls and women around the world.  The program’s goal is to give girls and women the chance to enjoy equal economic and educational opportunities—to encourage millions of girls and women to participate, prosper, and lead in the global economy.

The 10X10 film will highlight the individual stories of young girls whose lives have been transformed by education opportunities and will be previewed at BCLC’s Global Conference: CSR: Business Solutions in Emerging Markets Conference on October 11th.

In fact October11th has been named the International Day of The Girl and the global conference will dedicate time to the work of 10X10 and Intel and raise the profile of girls issues around the world.  

Sport is a capacity building tool in the education of young girls around the world. It’s a universal language that connects young minds to more complex learning tenants and provides the character building assets that allow young girls to excel in the classroom and break through the challenges set before them. A soccer ball could be as important as her pencil on the first day of school and if she has both the possibilities could mean gold on so many different levels.

[Editor's Note: This article first appeared in the Chamber's Center for Women in Business blog.]