Just over a decade after launching espnW, the groundbreaking brand for women’s sports and female athletes, The Walt Disney Company is leading a landmark initiative stretching across its storytelling platforms highlighting the civil rights journey of women in the sports and cultural landscape. Announced during Disney’s Upfront presentation today, “Fifty/50” will commemorate the 50th anniversary of the June 23, 1972 passing of Title IX, the federal civil rights law that prohibits sex-based discrimination in any educational institution that receives federal funding, which gave women the equal opportunity to play.
June 2022 will be declared “Fifty/50 Month,” a wide-ranging initiative focused on the intersection of women, sports, culture and the fight for equality. Highlighting it will be 50 women’s stories told in multiple formats, including long-form reporting, documentary storytelling, podcasts, features, and digital and social platforms.
“This initiative is an incredible undertaking by our team to provide a 360-degree view of the journey of women in sports and to underscore our commitment to telling women’s stories,” said Jimmy Pitaro, Chairman, ESPN and Sports Content. “‘Fifty/50’ promises to be a project about a story in progress, examining where we’ve been and where we’re headed, and I am eager to see it come to life.”
At the center of the original content rollout will be a definitive documentary event from award-winning filmmaker Dawn Porter (“Bobby Kennedy for President,” “John Lewis: Good Trouble,” “The Way I See It”) that captures the essence of the path of women’s sports and culture. The multi-part film will explore the hard-fought battle of equal rights in education and athletics. Each part will offer a riveting look at the decades-spanning fight to nullify Title IX’s significance; the rippling impact of this landmark law across society, access, and equality; and how that struggle continues to evolve and define culture in surprising and historic ways.
“Title IX is one of the most significant pieces of civil rights legislation in America’s history, but it may also be the most misunderstood,” said Porter. “I wanted to make this film because it speaks not just to my heart, but to issues that remain critical today. This is a story we think we know, but don’t.”
Among the many other components of “Fifty/50” will be an original anthem celebrating the power of women athletes written and performed by Grammy-nominated artist Rapsody and a ranking of the 50 greatest women athletes of the last 50 years from espnW.
“When we launched espnW in 2010, our goal was to create a platform to serve female sports fans more deeply and to shine a light on female athletes and women’s sports,” said Laura Gentile, Executive Vice President, Commercial Marketing, Networks & ESPN. “We’re proud of the work we do in driving that mission, and we are energized by the growth we’re seeing across both the sports and media landscapes. We’re looking forward to celebrating this milestone for Title IX and our country, and to highlighting the many triumphs and continued challenges we must work to overcome.”
Additional content for the initiative to be announced.