Hillary Rodham ClintonWASHINGTON, D.C. /eNewsChannels/ — The U.S. Department of State, the National Basketball Association (NBA), and the Women’s National Basketball Association (WNBA) will build on their long-time partnership to elevate efforts worldwide to empower women and girls through sports. Today, Tamika Raymond, Nykesha Sales, and Becky Bonner will travel to Ukraine to engage underserved girls in Kyiv, Dnipropetrovsk and Donetsk. While there, these sports envoys will lead basketball clinics for young girls as well as discussions on leadership and the importance of health and wellness.

In addition to Raymond, Bonner, and Sales, the Department and the WNBA will send a host of players, including Tamika Catchings, a member of the 2012 WNBA Champion Indiana Fever and the U.S. Department of State’s Council to Empower Women and Girls, overseas throughout 2013 to meet with young female athletes on and off the basketball court. Following the Ukraine program, a host of current and former WNBA players will travel to every region of the world, including Kazakhstan, Thailand, and Tunisia.

The Empowering Women and Girls through Sports Initiative aims to increase the number of women and girls involved in sports and to bring the lessons of Title IX – the landmark legislation in the U.S. that afforded women equality and opportunity through sports – worldwide. It is comprised of three pillars: sports envoys (American athletes who travel overseas); sports visitors (youth athletes and coaches who travel to the United States); and the cornerstone of the initiative, the U.S. Department of State and espnW Global Sports Mentoring Program.

The NBA and WNBA have been integral part of this initiative, which was announced last year by Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton.

The initiative builds on Secretary Clinton’s vision of “smart power,” which embraces the full range of diplomatic tools—in this case, sports—to empower women and girls and foster greater understanding. Click here to learn more: .