May 28, 2019

A Home Run for Women: (Baseball) Diamonds are a Girl’s Best Friend

In 2017, between the release of her new book and a TV show about her life that was picked up by HBO Asia, Po Chun Liu was becoming a household name in Taiwan. Working quietly for years to promote women’s equality in sports and perfect her skills as one of Asia’s top baseball umpires, life in the spotlight was new to Liu. Her participation in the Global Sports Mentoring Program (GSMP) helped amplify her voice, her efforts, and her career. Tapping into the unique power of mentoring, GSMP connects female change agents with American mentors, all of whom are dedicated to opening doors for young women around the world through sports. According to Liu, “The program made me believe I can make a change.”

When the American Institute of Taiwan (AIT) introduced Liu to the GSMP, she knew that she wanted to participate. Liu remarked, “I have no mentor in Taiwan, so I was so excited about this program because finally, I have someone to consult with. Having a mentor is so meaningful to me.” The exchange program took Liu to New York where she was paired with the National Hockey League (NHL) Senior Vice President Susan Cohig. Mentored by Cohig and working at the NHL sharpened Liu’s marketing, sports management, networking, social media, and fundraising skills.

Liu and her mentor worked together to develop “Move Forward Together,” a plan to combat discrimination against teenage and single mothers in Taiwan through community education. Being a part of the GSMP community and working directly with a mentor gave Liu the tools and connections to succeed. She was inspired to broaden her focus from women in sports to other women’s issues such as teenage pregnancy and domestic violence. At the conclusion of GSMP, Liu left “with a large net[work] and a new sisterhood. I know I am not alone anymore.”

Upon returning to Taipei, Liu laid the groundwork for a sports center where she could host various programs, including a GSMP-inspired mentoring program for women. With the support of the broader exchange alumni network in Taiwan and the region, she organized 17 women’s baseball games and girls’ training camps that benefited more than 14,000 participants.

Liu is a determined advocate for women’s rights. She worked with AIT and the New Taipei City municipal government to host a series of workshops focused on helping girls overcome gender barriers on university campuses. She has held over 100 speaking engagements throughout the country on ending domestic violence and sexual exploitation. She is a full-time social worker for The Garden Hope Foundation, an NGO that serves survivors of domestic violence, sexual assault, and sex trafficking. Liu also credits GSMP with strengthening her ability to deliver presentations in English, which has increased her international influence. In 2019, she became the first woman from Taiwan to deliver an awards speech at UN Women and she was awarded the World Trophy from the International Olympic Committee for her advocacy work on gender equality.

Liu’s list of accomplishments, including her rank on Forbes 2018 List of Most Powerful Women in International Sports, is seemingly endless – and she is far from finished. Her focus remains on helping “girls and women to get empowered—to become strong and willing to pursue their own happiness.” Liu believes in their potential: “I want them to live better lives. And I know sports can make a difference because that is what happened to me.

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