Ask an athlete: How can we empower women and girls in sport?


About the author

Marta Vieira da Silva holds a soccer ball with the global goals on it, at UN Women headquarters in New York. Photo: UN Women/Ryan Brown
Marta Vieira da Silva. Photo: UN Women/Ryan Brown

Marta Vieira da Silva is a Brazilian soccer player and UN Women Goodwill Ambassador for women and girls in sport. Marta, as she is popularly known, is widely regarded as the best female soccer player of all time. She is the all-time top scorer of the FIFA Women’s World Cup tournament and has been named Player of the Year six times.

Role models empower girls to envision a future through sport.

Many kinds of sport, especially football, is seen as something for men. Women athletes, with our talent, and with our work, we show that sport that can be practised by both men and women.

The support of our fans is very important for us, because when we have the audience on our side, we have a better chance at succeeding. You are at a game and you see crowded grandstands, that gives you motivation. When you do an event and see that people have come to see you, that gives you motivation.

Media also makes a big difference. When it really wants to, it makes things happen.

Many people approach me on the streets, and ask about the games, when we will play. Why? Simply because television is not informing them about it, and newspapers are not writing about [women’s sport]. Information does not reach people if media is not on our side.

And, it’s crucial to have information. Information needs to reach fans, and it draws our fans closer to us.

Sport represents a great opening in all sectors [for women and girls]. Because sport is really an activity that involves a lot of people of different cultures. It’s important to use it the right way to reach people’s hearts so that we can have a better world.