STEAMBOAT SPRINGS, Colorado — The Women’s World Cup 2023 in Australia and New Zealand is on track to be the most attended women’s sporting event, giving the major spotlight to inspiring female athletes from the 32 nations attending. Since the first Women’s World Cup in 1991, women’s football has grown extensively, capturing the world’s attention and creating global support for female sports.
Fighting for Gender Equality
As performed by the World Economic Forum, the current global gender gap stands at 68.4% closed and suggests that “the overall global gender gap is projected to close in 131 years.” At this year’s tournament, female footballers earn around 25 cents for every dollar men footballers made at last year’s World Cup, according to a CNN analysis. With adequate compensation, the sport will only continue to grow and create an environment of fairness and empowerment.
From three different nations, these female World Cup footballers are making their mark on and off the pitch, expanding the sport through their charitable efforts and perseverance to continue fighting for gender equality.
Asisat Oshoala (Nigeria)
Born and raised in the Ikorodu suburb of Lagos State, Asisat Oshoala stories a journey of hardship yet triumph. Her football career already legacies recognition as the first African to join the FA Women’s Super League, and she is African Footballer of the Year, a five-time recipient. These awards show her outstanding performance as an athlete and as a mentor for young girls in Africa.
Her success in the field translates to her philanthropic work through her foundation, Asisat Oshoala Foundation, established in 2015. The foundation directs efforts towards empowerment and education for young girls, gender equality and furthering the reach of the game. In partnership with Nike and Women Win, an “Amsterdam-based global women’s fund dedicated to advancing girls’ and women’s rights,” the Asisat Oshoala Academy (AOA) mission is access to sport and education for marginalized girls in Lagos. The foundation’s work opens more opportunities for little girls to confidently and knowledgeably navigate their dreams of playing football professionally, like Oshoala.
In an interview with FIFA+’s Icon Series, Oshoala says, “I think football has actually helped me a lot in life. I’m living in a different world from the world I lived in when I was growing up… A football at my feet has always been a thing of joy. Anything can happen. And everything is possible”. The freedom of the game that Oshoala now embodies represents her strength and passion to fight for the players of the next generation.
Sam Kerr (Australia)
Sam Kerr, the Matildas star striker, made her international debut for Australia in 2009 and is one team’s prominent voices. Her career narrates a player, a teammate, and a woman who platforms systemic changes that will forever change the game’s landscape.
This female footballer is making her mark on and off the pitch as a key advocate for pay equality for women. The Australian Bureau of Statistics reveals that male athletes earn an average annual of $67,652, while the gross income for women is $42,900. Throughout her professional career, Kerr continuously voices for gender equality, using her global platform to advocate for women’s sports in Australia. Her support is exemplified by her involvement with the PFA’s Our Goal is Now and in the collective demand for equal pay. In an interview with Seven Network, Kerr says, “I can only speak for the Matildas. We need funding [for]our development. We need funding in our grassroots. We need funding. We need funding everywhere.”
Sam Kerr’s excellence extends with her feature on the global front cover of the football video game FIFA, marking her as the first female ever to appear on the cover. Her work on and off the field yields her a recipient of the Order of Australia medal, recognizing her excellence. Kerr’s career continues to merit her fight for equality in Australian women’s sports, creating awareness and opportunity for women.
Huynh Nhu (Vietnam)
Vietnamese females did not compete abroad in women’s football until Huynh Nhu. Her support continues for her home nation, moving the sport to new heights as her passion fuels new opportunities for young Vietnamese girls. Her name is globally recognizable, shedding triumph for the sport’s expansion.
Prior to the 2023 Women’s World Cup, Huynh Nhu stars as a Team Visa athlete, one of 33 women athletes nominated and recognized for the Vietnamese captain’s achievements on and off the pitch. In honor of the selection by Team Visa, her story of passion and dedication flourishes in assisting her philanthropic endeavors.
Being a woman of firsts, Huynh Nhu recalls her passion as the first and foremost convincing reason for her to overcome the challenges of being a girl from a poor family. With her growing platform, her story elevates global connectivity and leads female athletes to follow in her cleat marks.
With such a global platform, female footballers fighting for gender equality foster communities and opportunities for younger generations. This year’s tournament is the first time Women’s World Cup players will be fairly compensated for their craft. Their outreaches extend beyond the pitch, bringing inspiration globally. These three female World Cup footballers are making their mark on and off the pitch, showcasing the growth in female athletics and the prosperity to come.
– Emmalyn Meyer