US to advance rights, opportunities for girls – Emhoff

The husband of the Vice- President of the United States of America (USA), Douglas Emhoff, has given an assurance that the present US government is committed to working with its partners in Ghana and around the world to advance rights and opportunities for women and girls.

He said empowerment of women was about investment in the future of countries around the world, because “when you lift up women, you lift up the status of families, communities, economies and all society benefits.”

Mr Emhoff, who said this when he addressed an NBA Africa Girls Basketball Clinic at the Bukom Boxing Emporium in Accra on Monday, stressed that “advancing the status of women and girls takes all of us, including men and boys.”

He said it was up to everyone to make societies more inclusive through sports, saying: “It is the power of sports that spurs our nation for all girls and women to have equal access and opportunity to play.”

Basketball clinic
The NBA Africa Girls Basketball Clinic, which was the maiden edition in the country, was made possible through a collaboration between NBA Africa and the US State department.

Mr Emhoff said too often, sports was linked with men but that was not true.

He said sports was for women as well, but gender discrimination in sports remained deeply entrenched and unfortunately tolerated around the world.

“That is wrong, because we know that sports plays a vital role in addressing these gender inequalities. We know that when we lift up young girls and women in sports, we bolster their confidence, self-esteem.

“Sports provide the courage that you need to take on the challenges of this world and to have that belief in yourself that you can do anything that you set your mind to,” he emphasised, and said, “So I want every young girl out there to know this, we believe in you.”

He said sports was so important because it could bridge cultural, ethnic and social divide.

He said “we are here in Ghana and also in Africa to strengthen our democratic partnerships and advance our shared priorities.”

That, he explained, was a follow up to the US-Africa summit held last year and indicated that today’s event (the basketball clinic) and their visit were part of efforts by the Biden-Harris administration to build upon the work that was started in the Africa summit.

“This also clearly underlines the commitment of NBA Africa to help the development of basketball in Africa from the basic levels, which is significant in any sports development.”

The Youth and Sports Minister said the introduction of the NBA Africa League was making significant contributions to the development of African basketball players and clubs, as it was offering a high-level competitive platform to African basketball players who hitherto would have had no such opportunities.

He, therefore, indicated that the clinic would highlight the potential of Ghana, especially in female basketball.

The Chief Executive of NBA Africa, Mr Victor Williams, was of the view that the junior NBA had been a cornerstone of NBA Africa’s youth development programming, which helped his outfit to further its commitment of empowering and creating more opportunities for young girls.

“We see the future of our continent through the eyes of young women and we will continue to invest in you as we have in our junior NBA programmes,” he added.

Through these investments, Mr Williams said, “we hope to elevate and inspire the next generation of African women leaders.”

A Women’s Basketball Legend, Astu Njie, in a brief remark, urged the girls to keep going, since they did not have any excuses as women who played basketball.

Ms Njie said anything was possible in sports and asked the participants to keep going and playing, since the value basketball brought to their lives was immeasurable.

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