When the first modern Olympics were held in Athens in 1896, there were no women’s changing rooms to be found. That’s because the total number of female athletes at the games was exactly… zero. By 1920, the year American women got the right to vote, about 60 women competed, alongside more than 2,500 men. Fast forward to 2016: When the Olympic torch is lit in Rio, expectations are that 45 percent of the athletes there will be women.
That matters, because sports are a crucial training ground for women’s leadership. One study of female business execs found that an astonishing 94 percent had participated in sports; three-fourths of them said that sports can accelerate women’s leadership and career potential. Certainly, sports—by exposing players to repeated failure as well as success—builds resilience, assertiveness and confidence.
We believe there are few moments in history when we can move fast and we can move forward. Our moment is now!
Kim Azzarelli is a business, philanthropic, and legal advisor focused on advancing women and girls. She is Chair and Co-founder of Cornell Law School’s Avon Global Center for Women and Justice.
Together, Ambassador Melanne Verveer and Ms. Azzarelli co-founded Seneca Women and co-authored the book Fast Forward: How Women Can Achieve Power and Purpose.