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UNESCO, Tour Launch New Programs, Ad Campaign

MADRID, Spain - UNESCO, the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization, and the Sony Ericsson WTA Tour, the world's leading global sport for women, announced Wednesday the selection and funding of women's leadership programs in Cameroon, Liberia, China, Jordan and the Dominican Republic, along with a new global advertising campaign designed to raise awareness and promote the goal of gender equality. Since the launch 12 months ago of the landmark global partnership between UNESCO and the Tour to further gender equality and promote women's leadership in all spheres of society, a substantial amount of funds has been raised or pledged and global Promoter of Gender Equality Venus Williams has been joined by Tatiana Golovin of France and Zheng Jie of China.

The new programs, which will be supported both through financial contributions and the partnership's player Promoters of Gender Equality, are designed to create real opportunities for women and girls to assume leadership roles, as well as to raise awareness and promote the goal of gender equality.

In Liberia, the project will create a women-only night school program for 1000 girls and train female teachers to staff the program in an effort to further equal access to quality primary and secondary education for disadvantaged women in post-conflict Liberia. In Cameroon, the project will work to create a group of successful female politicians, business women and athletes who will organize various events and activities in support of women's leadership and gender equality. In China, the project will aim to raise the percentage of rural women involved in local affairs and promote a more balanced decision making process. In the Dominican Republic, the program will advocate for women's social and political leadership through awareness raising activities and capacity building and training programs (one of these programs will train 80 young women between the ages of 18 and 28 in participative leadership skills to encourage them to rise to top positions in civil society and political organizations). And in Jordan, a legal rights awareness program, consisting of 24 legal training workshops throughout the country, will be designed to empower women to know their rights.

The global advertising campaign, which features Williams and Golovin in TV spots as well as a print ad, is expected to be run by a number of international and national broadcasters, including Eurosport, Zee Sports in India, NTV in Russia and the Tennis Channel in the USA. The ads are designed to raise awareness and promote the goal of gender equality and women's leadership. They are also designed to introduce the Tour's rising star players as global role models for women's leadership in their role as Promoters of Gender Equality. The TV spots can be viewed on the Tour's official website.

In addition, Williams' EleVen clothing line and her retail partner Steve & Barry's announced today that they've created a special Venus Williams/UNESCO T-shirt that will be sold at Steve & Barry's retail outlets, online at the Tour's official website and at select Tour tournaments with the net proceeds from sales to be donated to the UNESCO-Sony Ericsson WTA Tour partnership.

At Wednesday's announcement held in the new City Hall of Madrid, Williams was flanked by Alberto Ruiz Gallardon, the Mayor of Madrid; Tour Chairman & CEO Larry Scott; Hans d'Orville, Assistant Director-General for Strategic Planning of UNESCO; Tour President Stacey Allaster; Saniye Gülser Corat, Chief of the Section for Women and Gender Equality of the Bureau of Strategic Planning of UNESCO; and Gerard Tsobanian, Managing Director of Madrid Trophy Promotions, the promoters of the Sony Ericsson Championships, promoter of the combined women/men equal prize money major event to be staged in Madrid beginning in 2009, and creators of the innovative "Iguales" brand marketing campaign which features women and men tennis stars and advocates for gender equality.

"Creating the opportunities for women and girls to succeed and lead requires programs that will touch the lives of real people," declared reigning Wimbledon champion and former No.1 Williams. "I am thrilled that today we are instituting programs on the ground throughout the world that will help women in need, and am I looking forward to personally supporting these projects."

UNESCO Director-General Koïchiro Matsuura said: "For UNESCO, gender equality is a fundamental human right, a commonly shared value and goal that requires working together with a range of partners to deliver as one on this overarching global objective. I am delighted that the Sony Ericsson WTA Tour and its top players are joining hands with UNESCO in efforts to step up the commitment to support women's empowerment, leadership and gender equality in all spheres. The implementation of different projects and programmes, proposed by National Commissions for UNESCO around the world and funded from resources raised by the Partnership, is one concrete measure to reach out and support practical measures to attain gender equality in different regions of the world."

"It is exciting to know that through the programs announced today, the new advertising campaign and the combined efforts of our players, tournaments and UNESCO, we will make a real impact on women and girls throughout the world," Scott said. "The Tour was founded on the principle of equality, and it is inspiring to see players today fighting with the same conviction as Billie Jean King to break down glass ceilings that exist and help nurture women leaders of tomorrow."

"We are very proud to be back here one year after the creation of the IGUALES concept," said Gerard Tsobanian, General Manager of Madrid Trophy Promotions. "There has really been a snowball effect. The IGUALES concept has not only been about placing women and men tennis players at the same level, but also the root of our innovative partnership with UNESCO to improve the social and educational situations of many women around the world. With these first five projects announced today, we will be helping real women in Liberia, Cameroon, China, Jordan and the Dominican Republic."

Since the announcement of the partnership in November 2006 in Madrid, Golovin and Zheng have signed on as Promoters of Gender Equality, joining Williams. In addition, tournaments in Bangalore (Bangalore Open) and Linz (Generali Ladies Linz) have each pledged to raise $100,000 for partnership programs. Additional Promoters of Gender Equality as well as additional programs are expected to be announced in the coming months.

The social responsibility program, which draws upon the history of the Tour and players in fighting for equality, and the idea for which came about through the Iguales campaign at the Tour's season-ending event in Madrid, marks a new level of commitment by the Tour and players to raise awareness of the importance of gender equality and advance opportunities for women. The program represents the first time UNESCO, the only Organization of the United Nations system with a mandate for education, the sciences, culture and communication and information which are critical for laying the grounds for gender equality, is partnering with a professional sports league for this objective embraced by all world leaders (2005 World Summit Outcome). UNESCO, with a Section specifically devoted to women's empowerment and gender equality, is committed to mainstreaming gender equality considerations in all its programs, globally and at the country level.

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