Donna Orender was the moderator of the Panel session and started off the session with her introductory remarks. Mr. Orender’s passionate pursuit of working on behalf of women and girls
is a result of her personal journey as a professional athlete, corporate executive, leader of an iconic women’s business the WNBA, and a board member and founder of Generation W. Ms. Orender stated that COVID-19 literally turned the world upside down as the pandemic continues to impact women and girls disproportionately with inequalities, and the challenges have not lessened despite oui joined efforts. She expressed her sadness about the recent loss of Justice Ruth Bader Ginsbery who has been one of the champions, leaders, and warriors of women empowerment, gender equality, social justice, and equality for all.
Ms. Orender stressed the importance of including multiple stakeholders and voices in the policy development and decision-making processes that produce better results proven by research. Women are great leaders, innovators, healthcare professional and first responders to COVID-19 pandemic effectively. A person’s knowledge, skills, and talents are needed to build a competent team of responders during the times of crisis.
As a professional athlete and former President of the Women’s National Basketball Association, Ms. Orender underlined the significance of equal access to sport for girls, which is a game changer for everyone in terms of physical and emotional benefits of better health, increased strength and confidence, and specifically a reduction in the incidence of cancers is life changing. The power of sports should not be underestimated because sports strengthen institutions, lift nations from poverty and hunger, facilitate peace, harmony, and understanding of diverse cultures as one of the greatest international language for interaction and communication. If girls are given chance to unlock the possibilities, compete and succeed through the power of sports, they can be leaders and change-agents in building strong families, institutions, and communities. She argued that there is a strong correlation between athletic and business success that sports change the trajectory of girls and women’s life. According to EY, the research finding showed 94% of executive women having a background in sport, 80% of fortune 500 women executives having played competitive sports and over 60% of those women believing that playing sports contributed positively to their career success and advancement. As one of those women executives, Donna Orender reaffirmed the power of sports that equipped her with the power of mind and body and empowered her to speak and become a part of esteemed global leaders and the community of athletes. She concluded her remarks by saying: “One lesson I learned from my professional career is that when we invest in women and girls, we improve the world. Women are essential to progress our communities and our world; we cannot move forward without women’s full participation.”