Globally championing gender equity through sport

Across various backgrounds, cultures, and languages, sport has the power to put anyone on the same playing field.

Aligning with the Ohio University Women’s Center’s mission in championing gender equity and empowering marginalized genders, Assistant Director Letitia Price has recently returned from Rwanda after partaking on an extensive gender equity program and research project that supports gender equity through sport.

“I have always believed in the power of sport, that it can bring people together by empowering communities, bolstering community-based leadership, inspiring economic empowerment and serve as a transformative means for championing humanity,” said Price.

The program, Empowering New Voices through Education and Sport Training (ENVEST) is funded by the U.S. Department of State's Bureau of Education and Cultural Affairs through their Sports Diplomacy Division. The series aims to explore how sport can be used to create social change.

All ENVEST programs are led and coordinated by Virginia Commonwealth University Center for Sport Leadership and its Executive Director Carrie LeCrom, Ph.D. Coaching staff and players of the Lynchburg Soccer team also took part in the experience to continue to affect change through sport.

"In putting together our team for the Rwanda exchange, Letitia Price came forward as an ideal participant,” said Dr. LeCrom. “The sports diplomacy initiative focused on gender equity and women's health, and with her background in gender issues and football, I knew she would have a lot to contribute."

Letitia Price
Photo via Ashton Scott, Media Relations Coordinator at Virginia Commonwealth University

The program, which ran from June 7-21, 2023, hosted four gender equity and women’s health workshops.

The goals of the workshops included:

  1. Advocating for gender-responsive policies and institutional structures
  2. Supporting women’s equitable access to leadership opportunities, sharing their perspectives, finances, and resources
  3. Educating on gender-based concepts and theories that bolster awareness and contribute to more positive and inclusive social gendered norms

"The goal with all of our exchanges is to always have fun playing sport, but also to get everyone involved thinking more deeply about how much more impactful sport can be if we use it intentionally to accomplish development goals,” LeCrom said.

Price, who joined the Women’s Center last December, is eager to bring what she gained from the experience to her work at OHIO. She is a doctoral candidate in the Patton College of Education through the Education Administration and Leadership program and has completed a graduate certificate in Women’s, Gender, and Sexuality Studies.

“My work here at the Women’s Center has played such a significant contributing factor for working within communities on gender equity projects such as this,” reflected Price.

She emphasized the importance of being immersed within the community to gain authentic experience and further strengthen research.

“One of the illuminating takeaways from the project so far is the effectiveness of educating an entire community in the areas of gender equity, championing humanity, and the overall development and socioeconomic progress of a community,” said Price. “For each of the communities that we were immersed within, all of the members of the community were welcomed to be a part of the gender equity movements. It brought such a delight to see such diversity in the genders of young people and community leaders actively involved in educating their communities on the community transformative powers of gender equity."

Price is hopeful to incorporate her work and research in her future work with the Women’s Center. She hopes to continue in assisting the advocacy of increasing inclusivity for students, expanding awareness of the center and educating on the intersectionality of identities and gender.   

September 20, 2023
Jordan Schmitt