UNESCO and Sony Ericsson WTA Tour announce Global Partnership to Advance Gender EqualityUNESCO and the Sony Ericsson WTA Tour, the world’s leading global sport for women, announced today a landmark global partnership to further gender equality and promote women’s leadership in all spheres of society.
The social responsibility program, which draws upon the history of the Tour and players in fighting for equality and the idea for which came about through the Iguales campaign at the Tour’s season-ending event in Madrid, marks a new level of commitment by the Tour and players to raise awareness of gender equality issues and advance opportunities for women.
The program also represents the first time that UNESCO, the only organization of the UN system with a mandate for education, science and culture which are most critical for laying the grounds for gender equality, is partnering with a professional sports league for this objective. UNESCO is committed to mainstreaming gender equality considerations in all its programs, globally and at the country level.
Venus Williams, who has volunteered to serve as the first global “Promoter of gender equality” under the partnership, was flanked by Billie Jean King, the founder of the Tour and legendary advocate of women’s rights issues at the announcement today.
“I have always believed that as the world’s leading sport for women, we have a responsibility to do everything we can to help break down barriers to success for women,” said former World No. 1 and five-time Grand Slam Champion Venus Williams. “Through this partnership with UNESCO, our goal is to let women and girls throughout the world know that there are no glass ceilings, and to do our part to support programs that provide real opportunities for women to succeed in whatever they set their minds to.”
“We are thrilled to have found a partner in UNESCO that shares the goal of our players to achieve equality for women,” said Larry Scott. “Our players are role models for women and girls throughout the world, and this program will provide a series of platforms on a global scale for our players, the Tour and our partners to raise awareness and funds to promote women’s leadership.”
UNESCO Director-General Koïchiro Matsuura stated: “I am very happy to announce today a dynamic new partnership between UNESCO and the Sony Ericsson Women’s Tennis Association Tour (WTA). UNESCO and WTA are joining forces to launch a unique programme between the private sector and a UN agency aimed at strengthening national commitment to women’s empowerment and enhancing women’s capacity to fully partake in all forms of societal development. The Sony Ericsson WTA Tour will bring to this collaboration an association with tennis, the world’s leading sport for women, and the commitment of some of the most accomplished and recognizable female tennis players of all time. UNESCO, for its part, will bring to the partnership the expertise and experience of the lead UN agency for education, the sciences, culture, communication and the media. Paired with our commitment and dedication to gender equality, I am convinced that we will be able to mobilize the assets of WTA for effective programmes that will benefit young women across the world. “
“If there is a single principle upon which the women’s tour was founded, it was equality,” said Billie Jean King, Sony Ericsson WTA Tour founder and tennis legend. “From day one the Tour and its players assumed the mantle of fighting for equality and opportunity, and we haven’t stopped since. Partnering with UNESCO makes so much sense, and their global reach and expertise will help us to achieve our shared goal of gender equality.”
Key planned elements of the program include (i) a Sony Ericsson WTA Tour/UNESCO Fund for women and leadership, which will be endowed initially with approximately €200,000 as seed funding with the goal of reaching a much higher figure through planned additional fundraising activities, (ii) a “Promoter of Gender Equality” player program, which will involve players at both a global and national level in awareness raising activities as well as direct involvement in specific gender equality and women’s leadership programs throughout the world, (iii) mentoring, scholarship and fellowship programs designed create opportunities and the environment for women and girls to succeed in all walks of life and (iv) usage of existing UNESCO and Sony Ericsson WTA Tour tournaments, galas and conferences as awareness and fundraising platforms. Additionally, the Sony Ericsson Championships promoters and the city of Madrid will support the program through marketing, awareness and fundraising activities. Advertising to raise awareness of gender equality issues is also planned.
Since it’s founding in 1973, the Sony Ericsson WTA Tour and its players have been leaders in fighting for equality, including most notably in the area of equal prize money at Roland Garros and Wimbledon. Billie Jean King, the founder of the Tour, also founded the Women’s Sports Foundation in 1974, a charitable educational organization dedicated to advancing the lives of girls and women through sports and physical activity.
UNESCO promotes the empowerment of women, women’s rights and gender equality as an overall objective in its five fields of competence: education, natural and human sciences culture and communication/information. In particular, UNESCO seeks to integrate a gender equality perspective into all stages of its programme. The ultimate goal of these efforts is to strengthen the Organization’s ability to create the conditions for women and men alike, from all walks of life, to enjoy human development and peace on an equal basis. In this endeavor, UNESCO has a wide range of initiatives in all its domains as well as special partnership programmes with the private sector, such as the L’Oreal-UNESCO “For Women in Science” programme (http://www.loreal.com/_en/_ww/index.aspx), and the "Suzanne Mubarak/Japan-Egypt Friendship Research Fellowships” for the empowerment of women in peace and gender studies. With DaimlerChrysler, UNESCO has forged the highly successful Mondialogo Partnership, which promotes intercultural dialogue among schools and students through concrete projects (www.mondialogo.org).