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Policy Brief 14-8

Women, Sports, and Development: Does It Pay to Let Girls Play?

by Barbara Kotschwar, Peterson Institute for International Economics

March 2014

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Women have come a long way in sports, as the recent winter Olympics demonstrated, but more progress is called for. Studies show that girls with access to sports reap far-reaching benefits throughout their lives. Girls who play sports do better in school, suffer fewer health problems, achieve more in subjects (such as science) long dominated by men, and hold better jobs. While lowering barriers to girls in education and labor markets, all countries, especially in the developing world, should incorporate physical education programs for girls, train teachers in gender sensitivity, and guarantee equal access to facilities, equipment, and mentors. See also: Why Sports Programs for Girls Can Help Women Play with the Big Boys, RealTime Economic Issues, March 7, 2014.