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The United States players celebrate after winning the women's gold medal hockey game against Canada at the 2018 Winter Olympics in Gangneung, South Korea, Thursday, Feb. 22, 2018.
Frank Franklin II/AP
Girls & Women

Women Are Showing Why They’re the Real MVPs of This Year’s Olympics

US women are putting together an impressive showing at the 2018 Olympics in PyeongChang. 

On Thursday, the US women’s hockey team pulled off an upset to win the gold medal against longtime rival Team Canada. Before that, two women — Jessica Diggins and Kikkan Randall — shared the first-ever gold medal for the US in cross-country skiing. 

Overall, the US women’s Olympics team is slated to tie or pass their previous record for medals, set in 2014 in Sochi. With two days left in the games, they are just one medal short of this record, ABC reports.

But their victories haven’t just been on the ice and the slopes. Fighting against pay discrimination, speaking out about gender equality, and setting an example for future generations, these women are showing the importance of representation at the world’s greatest sports event. 

Take Action: Share Michelle Kwan’s #LoveOverBias Story

This is perhaps no truer than for the women’s Olympic hockey team. 

Last year, the team threatened to boycott the Olympics over allegations of pay inequality. According to CNN, many of the women on the team had to work one or two jobs to supplement their meager salaries — and asked USA Hockey for a $68,000 salary, along with benefits such as maternity leave. 

In comparison, most male hockey Olympians make well over $650,000 per year because they also play in the NFL, and are afforded bonuses for winning Olympic medals, CNN reports

After a showdown with USA Hockey, the women eventually came to an agreement with the federation. Jim Smith, president of USA Hockey, called the day an agreement was reached “one of the most positive [days] in the history of USA Hockey.” 

After their emotional victory over Canada Thursday, the reverberations of this case echoed once again. 

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“This is a moment for women in other sports and women in business and in every single walk of life,” Meghan Duggan told the New York Times. “We need to show our power and what women can do, so we can work more toward equality.”

Read More: This Bobsledder Is Breaking Gender Barriers on Her Way to Gold

Off the ice, women like 17-year-old gold medal snowboarder Chloe Kim and gold- and silver-medal-winning Jamie Anderson have also made quite the impression on the slopes. 

"Especially since Sochi, there has been a huge increase in women snowboarding and it's been very empowering," Anderson told ABC. "I realized it was super inspirational to have all these girls that are getting out of their comfort zone and tapping into that power."

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Global Citizen campaigns on the Global Goals for Sustainable Development, and gender equality is goal number three. Since 1972, when the US passed Title IX, allowing women the same athletic opportunities as men, women have still faced an uphill battle for representation at international sporting events. You can join us and take action by sharing figure skater Michelle Kwan’s story of overcoming bias here

Read More: How the World's First Figure Skater to Compete in a Hijab Overcame Prejudice

The tides are beginning to change for women’s sports. According to the She Network, women’s participation in sports at the college level has increased more than five-fold since 1972 and nearly tenfold at the high school level. 

"We give more opportunity to women in this country, and it's not even close," Donna Lopiano, former chief executive of the Women's Sports Foundation, told the Los Angeles Times in 2016. "You are seeing the effects of that in these Olympics."

As the Winter Olympics come to a close, the US women’s team’s shot at breaking its previous medal record lies in the hands of a few remaining athletes, including snowboarder Maggie Carrigan and speed-skater Heather Bergsma, ABC reports.   

But, odds are, their fight for equality and representation will continue well beyond 2018.