Category Archives: Empowerment

Sports for the Future She Deserves

“Sports for The Future She Deserves”

WISE: Work in Sports Exhibition, Lausanne, Beaulieu

Remarks by Ambassador Pamela Hamamoto
U.S. Permanent Representative to the United Nations
and Other International Organizations

Note: WISE is an international convention for career development in sports. This yearly 2-day event gathers around 1’000 participants and 65+ exhibitors in Lausanne, Switzerland, the Olympic capital.

Thursday, May 7, 2022

I am honored to have the opportunity to participate on this panel today and to discuss a topic that has always played an important role in my life…sports.  Participating in sports my entire life has clearly shaped who I am today and the path I chose to get here.

And I am humbled by the many talented athletes and sports enthusiasts who are here today, like Donna de Varona and many of you in the audience, who remain committed to improving opportunities in sports for women and girls around the world.  In the U.S., a law passed by Congress called Title IX  paved the way for female athletes, but of course there is still more work to be done.  I will talk more about Title IX in a minute.

I am particularly excited about the many opportunities for integrating sports diplomacy into a new initiative our US Mission here in Geneva recently launched called The Future She Deserves.  Through sports diplomacy, we can highlight the importance of providing equal opportunities for women and girls, and my colleague Trina Bolton will talk more about the U.S. Government’s Empowering Women & Girls Through Sports Initiative, which advances the rights and participation of women and girls around the world by using sports as a vehicle toward greater opportunity and inclusion.

But first, I’d like to take you back to my childhood, where I had the pleasure of growing up with three athletic brothers and countless hours of unstructured play time on afternoons and weekends engaged in all kinds of sports with the neighborhood kids, thinking at the time that it was all fun and games.  But in reality, at an early age, we were developing valuable skills and learning life lessons through participation in sports: teamwork, leadership, self-confidence, sportsmanship, negotiating skills, the value of hard work to name just a few.  All transferrable skills for both boys and girls, men and women.

In the early 1970s, only 1 in 27 high school girls, that is less than 4%, played sports.  And on average, universities spent only 2% of their athletic budgets on female athletes.  But when the U.S. Congress passed Title IX of the Education Amendments Act of 1972 things finally started to change.  Title IX states:

“No person in the United States shall, on the basis of sex, be excluded from participation in, be denied the benefits of, or be subjected to discrimination under any education program or activity receiving federal financial assistance.”

 This legislation was transformative.  Even though the word “sports” did not appear in the original Title IX legislation, the law has become synonymous with increased opportunities for girls in athletics. Mariah Burton Nelson, a former professional athlete and now a well-known writer and professional speaker, wrote, “Sports for women represents autonomy, strength, pleasure, community, control, justice and power…It changes everything.”  It did for me, and for many others, including others in this room. Today, instead of 1 in 27 high school girls participating in sports, that number is closer to 1 in 3.

In the 1970s, I was the 1 out of 27 girls in high school, and I went on to participate in college sports and beyond.  And through both playing and coaching, I have seen first-hand the empowerment that comes from sports.  Improved self-confidence and decision making.  Building and maintaining relationships.  Leadership.  Resilience.  Teamwork.  Discipline. These skills developed through sports are transferable.  And they are empowering.

Recent studies confirmed what I have always felt to be true.  An Oppenheimer study found that 82% of women in executive level positions had played organized sports, and nearly half of women earning $75,000 or more identified themselves as athletes.  An Ernst & Young study found that 96% of women senior executives participated in sports at some level.  Women’s increased access to sports and their rise in the American professional ranks is certainly not coincidental.

EBay CEO Meg Whitman was on the lacrosse and squash teams at Princeton.  Mrs. Fields Cookies’ founder Debbi Fields was an avid equestrian.  AT&T’s CEO Betsy Bernard credits “ski racing on the edge of a wipeout since age 5 for her ability to see her job as more exhilarating than frightening.”  The studies show what you all know instinctively, that the life lessons we learn on the playing field are fundamental to success in all aspects of life.  And not surprising, sports also teach us how to fail, successfully.  To get back up.  To work harder. To work smarter. IBM’s vice president for global security solutions stated that sports taught her: “You don’t always win. You have to deal with disappointment and not lose sight of your goals.”  Further, participating in co-ed sports and sharing an interest in discussing sports with colleagues serve as a unifying force that helps forge a common language between men and women.  Much of my education and the majority of my career were spent in male dominated fields – engineering, computer programming and investment banking – and I believe much of my success was due to the fact that I could speak that common language.

While there is always room for further improvement in the United States, we have made great strides in this area in the past few decades.  Unfortunately, millions of women and girls in many parts of the world still do not have access to a fair playing field – literally and figuratively.  Simply providing sports fields for girls has incredible impacts:  By a 3-1 ratio, girls who play sports stay in school longer, get better grades, have higher self-esteem and earn on average 14% higher wages once out of school.  Additionally, girls who are engaged in athletic programs are more likely to benefit from health and social programs that are made available in their communities.

I’d like to highlight a new initiative – called The Future She Deserves – which our Mission recently launched here in Geneva. The overarching objective is to Protect and Empower Women and Girls through innovative partnerships and approaches and more effective collaboration across this unique multilateral platform we have here in Geneva.  The initiative is focused around four key pillars:

  1. To prevent and respond to gender based violence;
  2. To ensure adolescent girls’ have access to the full range of appropriate health services;
  3. To empower women and girls economically; and
  4. To promote leadership opportunities.

The Future She Deserves aims to dig deeper, understand where the blockages are inside international institutions and make the necessary changes so that women and girls can succeed.  I must say that while preparing for this event, I have come to realize the significant role sports diplomacy can play in achieving the goals of the Future She Deserves.  One of the best places to learn valuable skills and have access to valuable resources is on the playing field. Trina will elaborate further on sports diplomacy, but the truth is, aid and development programs around the world have only begun to scratch the surface on what sports can do for women and girls.

Six hundred million girls are growing up in developing countries today.  However, the majority of opportunities to participate in sport programs are still dominated by boys and men.  Well-designed sports programs for girls in developing countries can make all the difference in the world, instilling confidence and leadership skills that will make these girls an unstoppable force.

On that note, I want to bring these amazing women sitting here with me into the conversation.  Each of them in their own way is making a difference.  Each has created valuable entry points for women and girls in sports, and the results speak for themselves.  I hope you find their stories as inspirational as I do, and I hope like them, you will consider becoming a champion for empowering women and girls through sports.

A Focus on Women’s Empowerment in Science and Technology at CSTD

The 18th session of the UN Commission on Science and Technology for Development (CSTD) is meeting in Geneva from 4 to 8 May, 2022 to review key science and technology trends and their role in the development process.  The U.S. Delegation to the Commission, jointly headed by Ambassador Daniel Sepulveda, U.S. Coordinator for International Communications and Information Policy, and Dr. Frances Colon, Acting Advisor on Science and Technology to the Secretary of State, is keeping a focus on empowering women in STEM fields and bridging the digital gender gap.

“Women and girls and underrepresented groups need access to quality science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) education, technical and vocational training, and access to the networks and resources that allow full and effective participation in knowledge-based economies.” said Dr. Frances Colon in the US opening statement to the CTSD.

Girls in ICT Day – US Mission & YWCA Sponsor Participants

International Girls in ICT Day is an opportunity for girls and young women to see and experience ICTs in a new light encouraging them to consider a future in technology. To date, over 111,000 girls and young women have taken part in more than 3,500 events held in 140 countries around the world.

This year the U.S. Mission aimed to expand the reach of ITU’s annual Girls in ICT day in Geneva and partnered with the YWCA to bring five young women from South Africa, Nigeria, Papua New Guinea, Myanmar and Chile. The Olympic museum in Lausanne kindly allowed the girls to explore many of the ways technology skills can be applied!

Learn more about Girls in ICT on ITU’s portal site.

US Strongly Supports ILO Focus on Gender-Based Violence

Statement of the United States Government

Agenda Item 2 on the Agenda of the International Labor Conference (2022-19)

March 26, 2022, Geneva, Switzerland

 The United States would like to voice its strong support for a standard-setting item on the issue of “Violence Against Women and Men in the World of Work.”

As the ILO has noted previously, gender based violence is “the most prevalent human rights violation in the world” and its existence is a “major challenge to the goal of equality between women and men.”

In the United States an estimated 2 million workers are victims of various forms of workplace violence each year.  The costs to businesses include the temporary or permanent absence of skilled employees, psychological damage to victims, productivity impediments, diversion of management resources, increased security costs, increased workers’ compensation costs, and increased personnel costs.

Women are often at increased risk and special attention must be given to those industries that are disproportionately female, such as the apparel industry, domestic work, health care and social services, and many of the lower paying jobs in the retail and hospitality sectors.  Additionally, there is insufficient attention given to how sexual violence pushes women out of their chosen fields, particularly in the sciences and technology.

The resources and expertise of this organization are uniquely suited to addressing the appalling abuses that millions of workers face everyday in the workplace.  We urge the Governing Body to place this item on the agenda of the International Labor Conference.

FACT SHEET: U.S. & Japan – Collaborating to Advance Girls Education Around The World

The White House

Office of the First Lady

FACT SHEET: U.S. & Japan – Collaborating to Advance Girls Education Around The World

About 62 million girls around the world – half of whom are adolescent – are not in school. These girls have diminished economic opportunities and are more vulnerable to HIV/AIDS, early and forced marriage, and other forms of violence.

Yet when a girl receives a quality education, she is more likely to earn a decent living, raise a healthy, educated family, and improve the quality of life for herself, her family, and her community.  In addition, girls’ attendance in secondary school is correlated with later marriage, later childbearing, lower maternal and infant mortality rates, lower birth rates, and lower rates of HIV/AIDS. A World Bank study found that every year of secondary school education is correlated with an 18 percent increase in a girl’s future earning power.

Earlier this month, the United States, under the leadership of the President and First Lady, announced that it is expanding its efforts to help adolescent girls worldwide access school and complete their education through an initiative called Let Girls Learn.  This new effort will build on investments that the international community, including the United States, has made and successes that have been achieved in global primary school education, and expand them to help adolescent girls complete their education and fulfill their potential.

Japan is also a global leader in international education.  Through its “School for All” concept, Japan seeks to advance education through improving educational facilities, teaching practices, community participation, administration, and health and nutrition.   Japan understands that the international community shares this concept, and believes that a comprehensive approach by other donors including the United States, international organizations, NGOs, governments of developing countries and local communities is the key to ensuring the sustainability of girls’ education.

Today we are pleased to announce that the United States and Japan will partner in this critical area, elevating the issue of girls’ education on their shared development agenda.  Japan and the United States, through this initiative, will cooperate in improving the learning environment for girls by collaborating with schools, communities and educational administration.

As two of the largest economies in the world, our combined efforts can make a difference. The President’s FY 2016 Budget request includes $250 million in new and reallocated funds in support of the Let Girls Learn Initiative.   Japan will commit Official Development Assistance (ODA) in excess of 42 billion yen over three years starting from 2022 for girls’ empowerment and gender-sensitive education.

Under this partnership:

  1. Peace Corps and the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA), which directs Japan’s Overseas Cooperation Volunteers (JOCV), will formalize cooperation through a Memorandum of Understanding between the two agencies.
    • This strategic partnership between Peace Corps and JOCV will be broad and encompass a variety of activities, and will focus in particular on advancing girls’ education through cooperation on the ground in countries around the world, including Cambodia.  JOCV will enhance cooperation with the Peace Corps to facilitate girls’ participation in the field of primary and secondary education, sports and physical education.
  2. With counterpart governments around the world, the United States and Japan will increase focus on girls’ education in our respective bilateral assistance programs.
    • Building on current funding and programs at USAID, the State Department, the Peace Corps, and across the US government, the United States will work to improve access to quality education and healthcare, help address violence and other barriers to education that adolescent girls face around the world.
    • Japan will prioritize girls’ education in its new international education cooperation policy starting from 2016.  In addition, in Southeast Asia, Japan will further provide assistance for constructing and expanding elementary, middle, and high school buildings, which is expected to benefit 20,000 adolescent girls with a good educational environment.
  3. The United States and Japan support girls’ education through strong commitments to international organizations and non-governmental organizations focused on these issues.
    • For example, the President’s FY 2016 Budget request includes an increase for the U.S. contribution to the Global Partnership for Education by 40% over current funding levels, to $70 million.  Japan will double its contribution this year to United Nations Women, to $20 million.

UNCTAD Secretary General Mukhisa Kituyi on Empowered Women and Development

“Women’s economic empowerment, an area in which a lot of work remains to be done, can be understood as making markets work for women, as enabling women to have control over resources, and as eliminating inequality in the labour market.”

Mukhisa Kituyi,  Secretary General of the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development,  gave opening remarks on economic empowerment for women at the Looking at Trade through a Gender Lens Opening session.

Full Text of the Statement Delivered on March 3 2022

As we go forward, let’s commit to expanding education, including for girls.  Expanding opportunity, including for women.  Nations will not truly succeed without the contributions of their women.

President Barack Obama

ITC Director Arancha González on Female Entrepreneurs in Trade and Development

“At ITC, in addition to our SME focus, we specifically promote entrepreneurship among women as a means to achieving women’s economic empowerment.”

Arancha González, Executive Director of the International Trade Centre, talks about why better prospects for women-owned businesses will mean a better future for developing countries at an event organized by The Norwegian Institute of International Affairs.

Full text of the statement delivered on Jan. 29 2022.


Press Release: Launch of The Future She Deserves Initiative

U.S. Mission Launches The Future She Deserves

Thursday, 5 February 2022 – The U.S. Mission to the United Nations launched The Future She Deserves – an initiative to leverage Geneva-based institutional mechanisms and multilateral fora so that women and girls have the opportunities they deserve to fulfill their promise, both as individuals and as members of society.  The event was attended by some 200 invited guests, including diplomats, UN officials, NGO activists, journalists, and academics.

The brainchild of Ambassador Pamela Hamamoto, U.S. Permanent Representative to the United Nations and Other International Organizations in Geneva, The Future She Deserves is a ‘call to action’ to seize Geneva’s unique multilateral advantage to protect vulnerable populations and unleash opportunities for women and girls.

“I believe we have a critical role to play here in Geneva.  In fact we don’t just have a role, we have a responsibility. Ambassador Hamamoto said.  “Let’s stop doing ‘business as usual’ when we know we can do better. “

The Future She Deserves initiative is grounded in the belief that progress in achieving economic, social, and political equality between men and women can more effectively be realized by building alliances across sectors and implementing strategic cooperation, here, among the institutions of International Geneva; improving accountability to ensure their efforts are effective and sustainable; being proactive on reducing adolescent girls’ vulnerabilities; and harnessing the capacity of women and girls to take charge of their own lives.

Despite substantial progress made in the past generation, today women  still own only 1% of the world’s wealth, have only a 10% share of global income, and occupy only 14% of leadership positions in the public and private sectors.  In addition, far too many women and girls around the world face violence each and every day. One in three women worldwide has experienced physical or sexual violence in her lifetime.

The four conceptual and operational pillars of The Future She Deserves are: 1) ensuring adolescent girls’ access to health services, 2) preventing and responding to gender-based violence, 3) empowering women and girls economically, and 4) promoting leadership opportunities.

For further information about The Future She Deserves and its four pillars, please take a look at the web site