The University of Tennessee Center for Sport, Peace & Society (CSPS) Team traveled to Taipei, Taiwan, to support and contribute to a first-ever sport, diplomacy, and gender-focused conference in May organized and co-hosted by Taiwanese baseball pioneer, Po-Chun Liu (CSPS Class of 2017). Liu is founder and Executive Director of Taiwan Sport Forward Association and is also known as the “Mother of Women’s Baseball” in Taiwan. She made her World Cup debut as an umpire at the WBSC Women’s Baseball World Cup 2010 in Maracay, Venezuela, before going on to feature in Forbes’ 2018 list of the Most Powerful Women in International Sports
“Chalk this one up for the ages in Taiwan,” said Sarah J. Hillyer, CSPS director. “This first-ever diplomacy, sport and gender conference, supported by Taiwan’s president—a woman, herself—will be considered a history-making moment we can all be proud of, now and in the future, when we witness the long-term impact in Taiwan and across the region.”
At the Sports Diplomacy: Taiwan-USA Collaboration on Building the Asia-Pacific Gender Equality in Sports Exchange Platform conference, participants spent two days examining how sports diplomacy can promote greater gender equality. The conference focused on four major themes through forum exchanges: Sports Diplomacy, Seeing Gender in Sports, Sports and Education, and Sports Media and Gender Equality.
Opening proceedings and the first-ever Women in Sport International Photography Awards were presented by Taiwan President Tsai Ing-wen.
The Grand Jury Award winner was Lisi Niesner (Austria) and her award was accepted by Lynn Cameron, the official photographer of England Lionesses and jury member of the awards. International Professional Division award winners Bruce Bennett (first place, USA), Silvia Casali (second place, Italy), and Adam Pretty (third place, Australia) were on hand to share the nature of their work. In addition, awards were handed out to the domestic and academic division finalists. Taiwanese television network, TTV News, provided coverage of the photo awards. You can listen to President Tsai’s remarks and watch footage of the event here.
During the conference, Michelle Kwan, U.S. Ambassador to Belize and sports diplomacy champion addressed the crowd via video. Ambassador Kwan praised Liu, who was recognized for her incredible work to empower women using sports as a tool for social change.
Hillyer gave the keynote address on reimagining the interplay between Sports Diplomacy and Sport for Development and Peace to maximize limited resources and leverage our strengths for social change. CSPS Assistant Director Carolyn Spellings spoke on the ways that the CSPS uses sport and education in its varied work to promote greater equality for all, and how its research feeds numerous initiatives and learnings. The two teamed up for a special, interactive workshop that expanded on the Center’s educational philosophy and encouraged participants to reflect on their passion, platforms, and purpose, then collaborated on how to create their own mentorship programs in their local cultural contexts. CSPS team affiliate Lindsay Krasnoff was on-hand to share examples of how basketball diplomacy has promoted gender equality and expanded the different types of sports diplomacy in play, historically and today.
CSPS alumna Carmen “Pina” Pozo (Class of 2017), one of the first female sports journalists in Bolivia, was featured in the Sport and Gender Equality in Media panel. “Because of the things you do, you can really change people’s lives and open people’s eyes,” Pozo told the audience.
“When we use sports, we know that we think the same, do the same, we speak the same language, we feel the same. There are no barriers between countries,” Pozo said. “Taiwan welcomes and makes you feel at home, that is how I felt sharing all the moments with the Taiwan Sports Forward Association team. Sports made me feel like I was with my family!”
The event was very personal for Liu, who has realized some of her dreams thanks to sports diplomacy programming that promotes gender equality. She was featured in the recent UT Press work, Strong Women. Better World: Title IX’s Global Effect, a 126-page illustrated book showcasing the stories and impact of nine CSPS program alumnae around the world.
Conference speaker and noted ABC News Australia journalist, Tracey Lee Holmes, covered the event, including how the lack of female representation in sports photography and media makes the Women in Sport International Photography Awards so vitally important and Po-Chun’s story fighting for greater equality on the baseball diamond in this edition of The Ticket.
For Hillyer, the experience was just one more example of how CSPS is equipping global leaders through the power of sport and education to advance peace, inclusion, and equity.
Communications Director, Center for Sport, Peace & Society