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On Wednesday, thousands of women throughout the country celebrated the 37th annual National Girls & Women in Sports Day (#NGWSD2023). In the over 50 years since its inception, Title IX’s impact has grown as those words have changed the lives of so many women, both in education and in sports. The Women's Sports Foundation hosted #NGWSD2023 events in Washington D.C. that highlighted Title IX's legacy—as hundreds of other NGWSD events took place across the country "powered by WSF."

Starting in 1987 in the nation’s capital, NGWSD is an annual day geared to recognize amazing achievements of women in sports and the work that still needs to be done for equality in pay and representation. The NGWSD day has grown immensely with events held nationally—and as far as Mexico and Saudi Arabia—as women gather to highlight the positive progress and focus on future growth opportunities.

Sophia Herzog, a two-time Paralympic swimming medalist in 2016 and 2020, talks about the impact that Title IX has had on her life and the work that still needs to be done.

“I have been so lucky that a lot of that work was done and I was lucky enough to play sports, have uniforms, be on the bus, and use the same facilities," says Sophia Herzog, a two-time Paralympic swimming medalist. "There’s still a lot of work to be done and to educate—males and females—but we’ve come a long way in 50 years.”

To kick off the festivities, female athletes from Howard University and athlete ambassadors with the WSF, like two-time Olympic Women’s Basketball Gold Medalist Angel McCoughtry, ran a clinic for girls ages 10–14.

To start off the night, the ambassadors held a panel talking about Title IX, activism, and NGWSD. Over the course of the evening, over 50 youth athletes had the opportunity to play softball, lacrosse, and basketball with the current Howard women’s team members. The goal was clear: to encourage the next generation of female athletes to follow their sports dreams, build their confidence and self-esteem, and have fun playing!

“That’s what makes me excited is that these girls are excited to play sports,” McCoughtry said. “It’s statistically proven that girls who play sports have more of a chance of being successful in life. They get a scholarship, so that’s a big deal. Companies would rather hire people who play sports because they know how to be in a team environment.”

While there is proof that females in athletics have made progress toward equality, the WSF’s mantra “We’re Not Done Yet” holds true, and they will not settle for things like lesser facilities and pay. Today, the opportunities that high school girls have in athletics still don't reach the number that boys had in 1972. One of the most important jobs is to educate parents, coaches, and players on what Title IX truly is because most people don’t know the true magnitude of the law.

On NGWSD, various WSF ambassadors held meetings with members of Congress to focus on the importance of continuing to implement the Title IX law. Those ambassadors also participated in a briefing and panel discussion at Capitol Hill to share their stories about advocacy and being mom athletes, and discuss necessary next steps.

Women’s Sports Foundation president Meghan Duggan shared that when she made the U.S. women's national hockey team in 2006, her motto was to “Keep her head down and your mouth shut.” It took a few years for her to feel comfortable speaking up on issues like per diem pay. (Men were given $50—and women $15—to pay for meals.) It took the team publicly threatening to boycott the 2017 world championships for real change to start to happen.

As women in sports look at the horizon for the next decade, the push for equal rights, pay, and media coverage has never been greater. Many of the panelists emphasized the importance of asking questions, educating male counterparts, and advocating for other underrepresented populations.

“Equity is for everyone," said Anna Johannes, Paralympic medalist. "Get through the door so that the door doesn’t get smaller.”