Published On: July 19, 2018

Marta’s Message

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Female football superstar Marta Vieira da Silva has been appointed a goodwill ambassador by the United Nations. The agency, known as United Nations Women, said Marta would use her fame to promote gender equality and tackle stereotypes, especially in sports.

“I know, from my life experience, that sport is a fantastic tool for empowerment,” Marta said. Sports can be a key way to empower girls and women because they are underrepresented and underpaid compared with men, the UN agency said in its announcement.

Known as “Pele in a skirt,” Marta is the all-time top scorer of the FIFA Women’s World Cup. She was a member of the Brazilian teams that won silver medals at the 2004 and 2008 Summer Olympic Games. Marta was named Player of the Year each year from 2006 to 2010. Now 32 years old, Marta plays for The Orlando Pride in the National Women’s Soccer League in the United States.

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“Sport is a universal language; it inspires and unites us as it stretches our limits,” UN Women executive director Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka said in a statement. “Marta’s own life experience tells a powerful story of what can be achieved with determination, talent, and grit. We look forward to working closely with Marta to bring the transforming power of sport to more women and girls and to rapidly building equality. I am delighted to welcome her to the UN Women family,” Phumzile said.

Sports help build self-confidence and leadership skills, but women and girls face fewer opportunities, less investment, and greater discrimination when they play. The UN agency cited a 2017 salaries survey by Sporting Intelligence, an online news and data source, showing elite women athletes earn 1 percent of what elite male athletes earn on average. No female athletes are featured in a ranking of the top 100 highest paid sports stars released by Forbes last month, marking the first year since 2010 that no women made the list.

Marta previously served as a goodwill ambassador for UNDP, the United Nations’ anti-poverty arm. Goodwill ambassadors typically promote such issues as gender equality or anti-violence efforts. “Through sport, women and girls can challenge socio-cultural norms and gender stereotypes and increase their self-esteem, develop life skills and leadership,” Marta said.

“It is an honor to become a UN Women goodwill ambassador for women and girls in sport. I am fully committed to working with UN Women to ensure that women and girls around the world have the same opportunities that men and boys have to fulfill their potential,” she added.

Marta scores a goal at the Olympics

Marta scores a goal at the Olympics

 

 

[This article comes from reporting by the Thomson Reuters Foundation and the Latin American Herald Tribune.]

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