The U.S. State Department will give up to $125,000 to nonprofits in Saudi Arabia to encourage women and youth empowerment through sports, according to a grant notice from the U.S. State Department.
The project should involve women and youth from rural areas of Saudi Arabia, and focus on soccer, basketball, motorsports, American football, “or other sports where Saudi women and youth are traditionally underrepresented.”
Other components that should be included in the project are strengthening women’s sports federations in Saudi Arabia, training and certifying women referees, facilitating the collaboration between Saudi and American sports teams and organizations, and creating a public relations campaign to share key program messages with nonparticipants.
While the goal of empowering women and youth in Saudi Arabia may be laudable, the grant program is flawed. In a country where women were only granted the right to drive cars in 2018, larger structural barriers to female empowerment are more worthy of attention.
Increasing female participation in business and government would be a better goal in the short term.
While supporting the equal rights for women and youth in every country in the world is a noble goal, any project that adds to the U.S. debt should be reconsidered. International charities are more capable of helping women and children toss a football around.