Fitness

U.S. Women’s Soccer Is Continuing the Fight for Equal Pay by Funding Underserved Entrepreneurs

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“We hope that this settlement provides inspiration and hope to all women fighting for equality, not just female athletes,” USWNT midfielder Sam Mewis tells SELF. “This settlement has further cemented our commitment to economic justice.”

Case in point: Though this battle may be coming to a close, the women’s players have decided to keep the fight going off the pitch to help underserved entrepreneurs. After the announcement of the settlement, the U.S. Women’s National Team Players Association (USWNTPA)—an association that serves as an advocate for women’s soccer players—partnered with Kiva, an international nonprofit dedicated to expanding access to financial services to help underserved communities. Through the newly formed Kiva Players Association Impact Fund, USWNTPA has committed to deploying $2.2 million in zero-fee, zero-interest financial assistance to more than 400 businesses with a focus on women entrepreneurs. For every $25 lent to a business through the Kiva lending site, the Players Association Impact Fund will match the contribution. To date, $50,000 has been disbursed and 51 women entrepreneurs have received funding through the partnership.

Shortly after the USWNTPA announced the fundraising initiative, SELF caught up with USWNT players Sauerbrunn, Mewis, and Crystal Dunn to discuss their thoughts on the settlement, what it means for women in sports, and next steps for U.S. women’s soccer.

SELF: What does this settlement mean for soccer?

Becky Sauerbrunn: One of the most important aspects of the settlement is the U.S. Soccer Federation’s commitment to equal pay going forward. So, for women’s soccer, it means that women will receive equal pay for equal work compared to their male counterparts. The settlement in general is an acknowledgement that barriers did exist that prohibited women from being compensated commensurate to the value they brought to the federation and that moving forward, those barriers would be identified and removed.

Crystal Dunn: The settlement represents the advancement of pay equality. It has been a long road, and we wouldn’t be here if it weren’t for the incredible women that came before us. The USWNT has always been a beacon for change and progress. The fight for equal pay was about honoring past players, but also creating a better future for the next generation.

What does this settlement mean for other women in sport in general—and for the next generation of girls too?

Sauerbrunn: The settlement helps in the fight for economic justice. A reason we fought so hard these last six years in particular is because we saw the influence the lawsuit battle was having with women in the States and abroad when it came to their respective occupations. Our players association strives to support economic justice initiatives, which is why our partnership with Kiva is so amazing because we’re now working together to provide micro loans to women entrepreneurs.

Dunn: The settlement hopefully inspires the next generation of young girls to continue advocating for themselves and recognizing their worth. For too long women have been discouraged from speaking out to better their work environment. My hope is that this settlement exemplifies the power that women possess especially when we come together.

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