Oakland, Calif., July 15, 2016:  Women Win Foundation and partner, Soccer Without Borders, welcome 10 leaders from Empowering Women of Nepal (EWN) and Go Sport Nepal to Oakland, California July 15 – 24, 2016. This is the second part of a two-way international exchange program with the goal of empowering marginalized girls in through sport. The program seeks to build the leadership of individual sport for social change practitioners and help organizations improve their capacity to address gender inclusion and girls’ rights through sport. It is sponsored by the U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs’ SportsUnited division, which is devoted to using sports diplomacy as a tool to increase dialogue and cultural understanding between people around the world. 

The first exchange took place in Nepal in March and where a cohort of Soccer Without Borders and Women Win staff trekked through the Annapurna region, hosted a football clinic for local school children organized the U.S. Embassy in Kathmandu and visited to EWN’s sport and girls’ life skills program.

“I think being immerged in a new culture always expands my knowledge and gives me new understandings of others,” said Abby Smith, a coach from Colorado who traveled to Nepal. “Even though I work with girls from different backgrounds every day, it is not the same as being immersed in a culture that is not your own… Having the opportunity to experience another culture energized me to take what I learned and share it with others.”

This week in Oakland, 10 Nepalese sport coaches and mountain trekking guides will visit local programs, attend an Oakland A’s game, share their stories an event hosted by Clif Bar and hike in Yosemite National Park. By spending time in each other’s countries, participants are able to share experiences in using both team and outdoor sport for social change models, such as soccer and trekking. Upon return to Nepal, the participants will practice skills and introduce ideas learned in the U.S. through 10 community change projects implemented in rural Nepal.

The events of the week will be shared on social media and will yield a series of videos about participants’ sport experience. Participants and organizers are available for interviews in the U.S. and Nepal by request. For an invitation to the Clif Bar storytelling event on July 20th, more information on the program or for media enquiries please contact Sarah Murray, Women Win Foundation Director, Sarah Murray at s.murray@womenwin.org

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Women Win is the global leader in girls’ empowerment through sport. We leverage the power of play to help girls build leadership and become better equipped to exercise their rights. Sport is only our tool. Our end game is helping girls thrive as they face the most pressing issues of adolescence, including accessing sexual and reproductive health and rights, addressing gender-based violence and achieving economic empowerment.

The Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs' (ECA) of the U.S. Department of State fosters mutual understanding between the people of the United States and the people of other countries to promote friendly and peaceful relations. This mission is accomplished through academic, cultural, sports, and professional exchanges that engage youth, students, educators, artists, athletes, and rising leaders in the United States and more than 160 countries.  The SportsUnited division of ECA specifically uses the international language of sports as a tool to promote tolerance, understanding and the peaceful resolution/prevention of conflict; to increase awareness among young people of the importance of following a healthy lifestyle and physical fitness in order to prevent illness, substance abuse, and negative behaviors; and to improve the quality of life for persons with disabilities by providing inclusive sports opportunities that contribute to the physical and psychological health of people at all ages who experience disabilities.

Soccer Without Borders mission is to use soccer as a vehicle for positive change, providing under-served youth with a toolkit to overcome obstacles to growth, inclusion, and personal success. Soccer Without Borders USA specifically focuses on working with refugee, asylee and immigrant youth in four cities throughout the U.S.

Empowering Women of Nepal (EWN) aims to improve the lives of Nepali women and girls through adventure tourism. By offering education and skills training in adventure guiding and trekking, a male-dominated field in Nepal, EWN seeks to encourage the development of self-supporting, independent and decisive women. In partnership with sister program 3 Sisters Trekking and other trekking guide companies, EWN trains disadvantaged rural women of Nepal to be trekking guides and subsequently provides job placements.