Billie Jean King Named Global Mentor in UNESCO-WTA Tour Partnership

UNESCO

Billie Jean King has been named as “Global Mentor for Gender Equality” in the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) and Sony Ericsson WTA Tour partnership to further gender quality and promote women’s leadership in all spheres of society. The partnership is also funding of Women’s Sports Foundation’s newly-created Billie Jean King Leadership Internship program.

King: “This partnership is a strong step in an effort to improve gender equity issues on many levels and I am honored to be part of this team. There is so much work still to be done when it comes to breaking down barriers to opportunity for women and girls throughout the world, and one of the most effective things we can do is combine our resources, energies and expertise.”

Since the program’s launch in November 2006, a substantial amount of funds been raised or pledged; a series of programs have been launched and funded; a global TV and print advertising campaign has been developed; Sony Ericsson tournaments in certain markets such as Linz, Austria and Portoroz, Slovenia have initiated advocacy, awareness and funding raising activities on behalf of the Partnership; and global “Promoter of Gender Equality” Venus Williams has been joined by Tour stars Tatiana Golovin Zheng Jie.

The program is designed to create real opportunities for women and girls to assume leadership roles, as well as to raise awareness and promote the goal of gender equality. Programs previously announced and now being implemented include:

  • In Liberia, a project that will create a women-only night school program for 1000 girls, and train female teachers to staff the program, in an effort to further equal access to quality primary and secondary education for disadvantaged women in post-conflict Liberia.
  • In Cameroon, a project that will work to create a group of successful female politicians, business women and athletes who will organize various events and activities in support of women’s leadership and gender equality.
  • In China, a project that will aim to raise the percentage of rural women involved in local affairs and promote a more balanced decision making process.
  • In the Dominican Republic, a program that will advocate for women’s social and political leadership through awareness raising activities and capacity building and training programs. One of these programs will train 80 young women between the ages of 18-28 in participative leadership skills to encourage them to rise to top positions in civil society and political organizations.
  • In Jordan, a legal rights awareness program, consisting of 24 legal training workshops throughout the country, will be designed to empower women to know their rights.

Key elements of the program include:

  • A Sony Ericsson WTA Tour/UNESCO Fund for women and leadership,
  • A “Promoter of Gender Equality” player program, which involves players as role models at both a global and national level in advocacy and awareness raising activities as well as direct involvement in specific gender equality and women’s leadership programs throughout the world,
  • Mentoring, scholarship and fellowship programs designed to support women’s individual leadership and provide them with the opportunities to succeed in any and all walks of life,
  • Advertising to raise awareness of and promote the internationally recognized goal of gender equality, and
  • Usage of UNESCO and Sony Ericsson WTA Tour tournaments, social events and conferences as advocacy, awareness and fundraising platforms.

The program also represents the first time that UNESCO, the only Organization of the United Nations system with a mandate for education, the sciences, culture and communication and information which are critical for laying the grounds for gender equality, is partnering with a professional sports league for this objective embraced by all world leaders (Women’s Sports Foundation).