By Nayab Khan
The Department of State’s Executive Women @ State (EW@S) in collaboration with the Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs (ECA) sponsored a program with espnW’s Senior Vice President Laura Gentile to celebrate the 47th annual Women’s Equality Day, Oct. 25, 2018. Ambassador Wanda Nesbitt of the Foreign Service Institute welcomed participants and introduced a welcome video from Deputy Secretary of State John Sullivan.
Sullivan highlighted the gains made by women at the Department and acknowledged the work that still needs to be done. He tied the Department’s pivotal work to the work of ECA’s Global Sports Mentoring Program (GSMP). The Department works “to advance women’s equality, protect the rights of women and girls, and promote youth and women empowerment programs around the world,” said Sullivan. The GSMP facilitates connections between women and sports leaders while prioritizing key themes of entrepreneurship and human rights. Sullivan acknowledged Gentile’s role in the establishment of espnW and her drive to empower the female leaders of tomorrow.
With her team, Gentile started espnW in 2010, and she continues to serve as a powerful voice advocating on behalf of girls and women in the field of sports diplomacy. Gentile’s advice to the audience struck a chord. “If you have an idea and believe in it, then try to see it through,” said Gentile, echoing the values of EW@S. “You have to have the courage of your convictions.”
Office of Civil Rights Director Gregory Smith gave closing remarks. The story of women is “layered, it’s textured, it’s complex and touches all of us,” said Smith. “The story of women is the story of America and we should not only be participants, but also active allies.”
Nayab Khan is a foreign affairs officer in the Office to Monitor and Combat Trafficking in Persons.