New York, NY (February 6, 2024) — Gathering in the nation’s capital, the Women’s Sports Foundation (WSF) is uniting barrier-breaking athletes, advocates, coaches and leaders to celebrate the 38th Annual National Girls & Women in Sports Day (NGWSD™), a national day co-founded and powered by WSF. Today, on the eve of NGWSD, WSF along with its National Partner Delta Air Lines, will host a multi-sports clinic and athlete panel discussion for D.C.-area girls at American University, and a convening of The Equity Project® focused on Title IX, alongside Signature Partner TIAA. Tomorrow, WSF is heading to Capitol Hill to take part in congressional meetings with Senators, Representatives and their staff, to discuss the ways sport participation is building the leaders of tomorrow, and legislation needed to advance gender equity on and off the field of play. WSF will cap off the day by hosting an evening reception at the National Museum of Women in the Arts for advocates, allies and friends. This year’s NGWSD will serve as a launchpad for WSF’s 50th anniversary campaign – 50 Years of Changing the Game – that will reflect on WSF’s journey and impact over the past five decades, while also looking forward to the work ahead.
In 1974, shortly after the passage of Title IX, sports icon and social justice pioneer Billie Jean King, used her $5,000 winning check that she received as the best women’s athlete of the year, to create WSF – one of the first organizations to recognize the powerful role of sports in helping girls and women achieve their full potential in sports and life. Today, WSF has grown into a dynamic organization that is a leader in the fight for gender equity in sports and champion of the entire women’s sports ecosystem. Throughout this 50th milestone year, WSF plans to celebrate in a number of impactful ways, including:
- Releasing compelling new research reports on leadership and mental health, as it continues to illuminate the societal and cultural impact that is made when girls and women play sports;
- Commemorating the 10th anniversary of its Sports 4 Life Program, a national initiative co-founded with ESPN, and supported by Gatorade;
- And recruiting a group of 50 runners to take on the NYC Marathon and fundraise in honor of the Foundation’s special year.
Learn more about #WSF50 here.
“For 50 years, we at the Women’s Sports Foundation have championed a simple message: giving girls and women access to sports is not only transformative for them, but also beneficial to society at large,” said WSF CEO Danette Leighton. “This National Girls & Women in Sports Day, we are in the nation’s capital to celebrate how far we have come in five decades and to advocate for continued progress to ensure girls and women can play, compete and lead – in sports and beyond – without barriers.”
The game-changing athletes, women’s sports advocates and leaders joining WSF for this year’s NGWSD events include: center-forward for the Washington Mystics, Shakira Austin; lead plaintiff in Hawaii’s recent Title IX class-action lawsuit, Ashley Badis; founder of Warner Bros. Discovery’s HighlightHer, Ari Chambers; two-time Women’s World Cup champion, Ashlyn Harris; two-time Paralympian in track & field, Jessica Heims; NWSL champion and former captain of the Washington Spirit, Tori Huster; forward for the Connecticut Sun, Brionna Jones; three-time Paralympian in women’s sitting volleyball, Kaleo Maclay; Hall of Fame women’s basketball coach, Muffet McGraw; two-time Olympic medalist in softball, Jessica Mendoza; Olympic gold medalist in track & field, Benita Fitzgerald Mosley; first woman to play NCAA Division I baseball, Olivia Pichardo; first woman non-kicker to play in a college football game, Haley Van Voorhis; and NCAA Division I lacrosse player at Howard University, Kimora Williams.
Today, several athletes and leaders from this powerful group are joining the Foundation’s Athlete Ambassador Program event, held in partnership with Delta, which is a sports clinic at American University, where they will welcome D.C.-area girls between the ages of 8-14 years old. Throughout the event, the girls will participate in playing multiple sports, including basketball and tennis, while listening to music by DJ Sophia Rocks, and will hear from this group of champion athletes and leaders during a panel conversation. The program, like NGWSD itself, is designed to encourage girls to break through barriers and follow their dreams. Some of the athletes and leaders will also join The Equity Project convening, with Signature Partner TIAA, to discuss the overall landscape of Title IX awareness, education and compliance, including current trends and research. WSF research reveals that great progress has been made since the landmark law’s passage in 1972, yet girls and women continue to lack equitable access to opportunities and resources. Today’s conversations bring together key advocates and policy experts to deepen the group’s collective understanding of where compliance and enforcement fall short, and how Title IX advocates can advance policy and practices to ensure its full promise is met.
“As a Paralympian, I know more must be done to bolster inclusion and overcome implicit bias for girls and women in sport, especially for those with disabilities,” said WSF President Scout Bassett. “As we celebrate WSF’s 50th anniversary in conjunction with National Girls & Women in Sports Day, it is my hope that every event encourages positive conversations that will lead to lasting change for girls and women of all abilities, on and off the field of play.”
Since its launch in 1987, advocating for greater policies to keep the women’s sports ecosystem strong has been a staple of NGWSD. Tomorrow, February 7, WSF leadership, athletes, coaches and sports industry leaders will be on Capitol Hill meeting with members of Congress and their staff to share insights from WSF’s research, advocacy and community programming and discuss ways they can help further promote equity on the field of play. WSF CEO Danette Leighton will also join NCAA President Charlie Baker and other experts and stakeholders for a briefing with lawmakers to address ways they can help safeguard and further sport participation opportunities for girls and women to help them grow into the leaders of tomorrow. Later in the evening, WSF leadership and Trustees will host a private event at the National Museum of Women in the Arts where athletes, policy makers, sports business executives and media will have the opportunity to learn more about the Foundation’s work and the vital role they can play in helping level the playing field for girls and women in sport.
Learn more about #NGWSD2024 on WSF’s website. You can view a map of events taking place across the country and read stories from professional athletes, student-athletes and coaches sharing their view on the impact of sports.
About National Girls & Women in Sports Day
National Girls & Women in Sports Day® (NGWSD™) was co-founded by the Women’s Sports Foundation in 1987 as a special day in our nation’s capital to recognize women’s sports. The day united premiere organizations and elite women athletes to bring national attention to the promise of girls and women in sports. In 1987, NGWSD also served as a remembrance of Olympic volleyball player Flo Hyman for her athletic achievements and dedication to promoting equality for women’s sports; Hyman died of Marfan’s Syndrome in 1986. NGWSD has since evolved into an event to acknowledge the accomplishments of girls and women in sports, the positive influence of sports participation and the continuing struggle for equality for women in sports. NGWSD is powered by the Women’s Sports Foundation, supported by its team of champion athletes and celebrated throughout the year by schools and community-serving organizations across all 50 states. Learn more here, and follow the hashtag #NGWSD2024 on social media.
About the Women’s Sports Foundation
The Women’s Sports Foundation exists to enable girls and women to reach their potential in sport and life. We are an ally, an advocate, and a catalyst. Founded by Billie Jean King in 1974, we are one of the first organizations to recognize the powerful connection between sports access, equity, and society. WSF has been changing the game for 50 years through its research, advocacy, and community programming, investing over $100 million to help girls and women play, compete, and lead – in sports and beyond – without barriers. A leader and champion of the entire women’s sports ecosystem, WSF amplifies the vital societal and cultural impact that is made when girls and women play sports. All girls. All women. All sports® To learn more about the Women’s Sports Foundation, please visit www.WomensSportsFoundation.org.
Women’s Sports Foundation
Women’s Sports Foundation