It’s no news that the world of sports has remained majorly male-dominated for decades, not giving female athletes the same opportunities to thrive as compared to their male counterparts. Although over the decades, there has been improvement, a whole lot more still needs to be done.
In efforts toward boosting women’s participation in sports, Nike In partnership with a collective of top female athletes from around the world has announced the launch of Athlete Think Tank, its new initiative geared towards tackling barriers and investing and championing the next generation of girls in sports.
The top brand announced a $1.3-million donation which will help power the boost in participation of girls in sports.
The Think Tank for over a year, sort feedback from an elite, diverse roster of sports superstars and global catalysts, including Serena Williams, swimmer Simone Manuel, sprinters Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce and Dina Asher-Smith, runner Shalane Flanagan, Paralympic track and field athlete Scout Bassett, basketball player Sabrina Ionescu, heptathlete Nafi Thiam, fencer Ibtihaj Muhammad, soccer players Deyna Castellanos and Ada Hegerberg, wheelchair fencer Bebe Vio, and track and field athlete Angela Davis, giving the opportunity to share their views on equal pay and participation of women in sports
“We opened up the conversation to hear their insights and help inform where we can be better,” Tanya Hvizdak, Nike’s vice president of women’s global sports marketing, tells SELF. “We specifically asked how they believe sport can move the world forward, how we can help break barriers to sport, and how we can better leverage their input and ideas.”
Each member of the Think Tank will choose an organization to support. For example, Williams chose to support the Brown Girls Dream in Los Angeles; Fraser-Pryce selected the Pocket Rocket Foundation in Jamaica; Ionescu went with the Mamba & Mambacita Sports Foundation and Flanagan is partnering with the Marathon Kids and Amputee Blade Runners.
Via zoom calls and face 2 face conversations, the athletes shared the importance of inclusion especially disabled athletes as the need for equal opportunity, pay, and support; respect for women’s bodies; and valuing purpose as much as performance through community efforts. They also emphasized the financial difficulties that play a part in preventing access to sports.
Nike wants the program to be an investment in women by funding purposeful global organizations, creating opportunities for women and girls in sport, and ultimately to improve communities they care about.