Cantwell Joins Colleagues to Introduce Resolution Recognizing Feb. 1 As “National Girls & Women in Sports Day”

February 1, 2023

Today, U.S. Senator Maria Cantwell (D-Wash.), chair of the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science and Transportation, joined Sens. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.), Shelley Moore Capito (R-W.Va.) and Patty Murray (D-Wash.) in introducing a bipartisan resolution recognizing today, February 1, as National Girls & Women in Sports Day.

“Sports has the power to inspire us, and our country is better when women are empowered to participate and compete,” said Sen. Cantwell. “Washington athletes like Megan Rapinoe, Sue Bird, the national champion Western Washington University soccer team, and so many others have shown us just what is possible. I’m proud to stand with my colleagues to recognize the importance of female athletes and encourage our next generation of girls to chase after their dreams.”

“From soccer fields to hockey rinks to basketball courts, American women and girls have excelled at every level of sports since the passage of Title IX,” said Sen. Feinstein. “National Girls & Women in Sports Day is a chance to celebrate those accomplishments and encourage more young girls to get out and play. It’s also a chance recommit to leveling the playing field, ensuring that women’s and men’s sports are treated equally.”

“As an athlete myself and the mother of a daughter who played a college sport, I have been a strong supporter of athletics and understand the benefits they can have on those who participate. That’s why I have been committed to ensuring that young girls and women are able to access opportunities within athletics, and that our female athletes are treated fairly when they compete. Today gives us an opportunity to look back on how far we have come, and recognize the work still ahead of us,” said Senator Capito, a member of the Commerce Committee.

“Since Title IX burst open doors for women athletes to compete, women and girls across our country have excelled on and off the field – and changed our country for the better,” said Sen. Murray. “Today, I’m proud to celebrate the remarkable achievements of women athletes in Washington state and all across the country, and to continue the fight for equal treatment – and equal pay – for women and girls in sports.”

President Biden signed Sen. Cantwell’s and Sen. Capito’s bipartisan Equal Pay for Team USA Act into law on January 5, 2023.  The bill requires that all athletes representing the United States in global athletic competitions receive equal compensation and benefits in their sport, regardless of gender. It also requires equal payment for medical care, travel and expenses. Sen. Cantwell shepherded the legislation through the Commerce Committee with unanimous support on June 22, 2022, the eve of the 50th anniversary of Title IX. The bill went on to pass the Senate unanimously on December 8, 2022, and passed the House on December 21, 2022, by a substantial margin.

The resolution is cosponsored by Sens. Marsha Blackburn (R-Tenn.), Mazie K. Hirono (D-Hawaii), Kyrsten Sinema (D-Ariz.), Susan Collins (R-Maine), Maggie Hassan (D-N.H.), Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.) and Tammy Baldwin (D-Wis.).

Full text of the resolution is available here and below:

Supporting the observation of “National Girls & Women in Sports Day” on February 1, 2023, to raise awareness of and celebrate the achievements of girls and women in sports.

Whereas “National Girls & Women in Sports Day” began in 1987 as a day to recognize and acknowledge the success and progress of girls and women in sports;

Whereas athletic participation helps develop self-discipline, initiative, confidence, and leadership skills, and opportunities for athletic participation should be available to all individuals;

Whereas, because the people of the United States remain committed to protecting equality, it is imperative to eliminate the existing disparities between male and female youth athletic programs;

Whereas the share of athletic participation opportunities of high school girls has increased more than sixfold since the enactment of title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972 (20 U.S.C. 1681 et seq.) (referred to in this preamble as “title IX”), but high school girls still experience—

(1) a lower share of athletic participation opportunities than high school boys; and

(2) a lower level of athletic participation opportunities than high school boys enjoyed over 50 years ago;

Whereas 60 percent of high school girls participate in a sport;

Whereas female participation in college sports has nearly tripled since the enactment of title IX, but female college athletes still comprise only 44 percent of the total collegiate athlete population, 30 percent of whom are white women and only 14 percent of whom are Black, Indigenous, and People of Color (referred to in this preamble as “BIPOC”) women;

Whereas, in 1971, women coached 90 percent of collegiate women’s teams, but as of 2023, women coach only 41 percent of all National Collegiate Athletic Association (referred to in this preamble as “NCAA”) women’s teams and BIPOC women represent only 7 percent of head coaches;

Whereas there is a need to restore women to those positions to ensure fair representation and provide role models for young female athletes;

Whereas, for too long, the many achievements of women in sports have not received fair recognition;

Whereas the long history of women in sports in the United States—

(1) features many contributions made by female athletes that have enriched the national life of the United States; and

(2) includes inspiring figures, such as Gertrude Ederle, Wilma Rudolph, Althea Gibson, Mildred Ella “Babe” Didrikson Zaharias, Mary Lou Retton, and Patty Berg, who overcame difficult obstacles in their own lives—

(A) to advance participation by women in sports; and

(B) to set positive examples for the generations of female athletes who continue to inspire people in the United States today;

Whereas the United States must do all it can to break down the barriers of discrimination, inequality, and injustice in sports;

Whereas girls and young women in minority communities are doubly disadvantaged because—

(1) schools in minority communities have fewer athletic opportunities than schools in predominately White communities; and

(2) the limited resources for athletic opportunities in minority communities exacerbates the existing gender inequity between girls and boys;

Whereas the United States Women’s National Soccer Team has led the fight domestically and internationally for equal treatment and compensation for female athletes;

Whereas the 4-time World Cup champion United States Women’s National Soccer Team will compete to win a historic third World Cup title in a row at the 2023 FIFA Women’s World Cup;

Whereas, with the recent enactment of laws such as the Equal Pay for Team USA Act of 2022 (Public Law 117–340), Congress has taken steps—

(1) to ensure all athletes representing the United States in global competition receive equal pay and benefits regardless of gender; and

(2) to represent to the world, and especially young girls, that everyone deserves equal pay and benefits; and

Whereas, with increased participation by women and girls in sports, it is more important than ever to continue protecting title IX and upload the mandate of the law of equitable and fair treatment and more general principles of gender equity throughout the sport system: Now, therefore, be it

Resolved, That the Senate supports—

(1) observing “National Girls & Women in Sports Day” on February 1, 2023, to recognize—

(A) all women athletes who represent schools, universities, and the United States in their athletic pursuits; and

(B) the vital role that the people of the United States have in empowering girls and women in sports;

(2) marking the observation of National Girls & Women in Sports Day with appropriate programs and activities, including legislative efforts

(A) to build on the success of the Equal Pay for Team USA Act of 2022 (Public Law 117–340) and ensure equal pay for all female athletes; and

(B) to protect and uphold title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972 (20 U.S.C. 1681 et seq.) so that future generations of athletes will not have to experience the inequitable and unfair treatment that many athletes have had to endure, and continue to endure, today; and

(3) all ongoing efforts—

(A) to promote gender equity in sports, including equal pay and equal access to athletic opportunities for girls and women; and

(B) to support the commitment of the United States to expanding athletic participation for all girls and future generations of women athletes.