05/22/2013 01:18 pm ET Updated Dec 06, 2017

Lessons of Title IX Beyond the U.S.

International development agencies, funders, governments, universities, and nonprofits are increasingly turning to sports as an innovative and effective way to engage a young woman in achieving her rights. Women Win is recognized as a leading global organization using sport as a strategy to advance women's rights.

Women Win is a unique organization and we have quickly emerged as a thought leader, strategically positioned at the intersection of the women's rights and sport for development. We focus sports as a powerful tool for learning and building skills, increasing knowledge, improving health and fitness, and ultimately yielding positive behaviors and health outcomes for girls living in some of the most challenging places around the world.

The impact at home

Sport has been a right for women in the U.S. since 1972 with the passage of Title IX. This transcends the conversation of sports as something that is nice to have, or simply good for women's health or body fat percentage, but a legally-protected right.

Title IX's equitable funding mandate for all universities and schools receiving federal funding made sports programming for girls and women immediately available, and the total number of girls playing high school sports increased from 300,000 in 1970 to over three million today.

Forty years after the passage of the law, studies are starting to elicit gains made by women who grew up playing sports in the United States. A 2002 study by the mutual fund Oppenheimer found that 50 percent of women who make $75,000 and above identify themselves as athletic, and 82 percent of executive businesswomen played organized sports after elementary school.

A 2010 study by Betsey Stevenson, an economist at the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania, found that sports both increased college attendance and participation in the work force.

Applying the Model Globally

Women Win's rights-based model is built on the premise that adolescent girls are empowered through sports by acquiring new skills and Assets, by Accessing resources, and by developing Agency and leadership. We call it the 3 A's theory of change. Once empowered, women are able to give back to their communities and play transformative leadership roles in their societies: completing a virtuous circle of empowering others. We have seen substantial traction in three women's-rights areas, specifically:

1) achieving economic empowerment;

2) addressing gender-based violence; and,

3) accessing sexual and reproductive rights and health.

Knowledge and empowerment for young women in these three areas has the greatest impact upon positive outcomes for her, her family and her community.

Building the Future

We imagine a day when sports programs for girls and young women will be viewed as the norm. It will no longer be innovative, or controversial. We imagine a day when, on fields in Dar es Salaam and Mumbai, girls and boys will play in equal numbers. This day will come when we invest strategically in programs that foster a woman's right to economic independence, freedom from violence, and sexual and reproductive health. We know that each girl we work with might return to shepherd the next generation of girls and young women through challenges many of us cannot fathom. We are working with powerful partners across the globe to unleash women's economic and leadership power upon communities. Quality sports programs for women's rights will get us there.

Shortened version of "CELEBRATING TITLE IX BEYOND THE U.S" by Astrid Aafjes and Maria Bobenrieth. Read the full article here.