NEW YORK – An initiative from the Milk Processor Education Program (MilkPEP) seeks to sponsor as many female marathon runners as it can in 2023.

The campaign is called 26.2, a nod to the number of miles runners log during a marathon. Its organizers shared that 26.2 not only will sponsor any woman running a marathon who signs up for Team Milk, but also will generate awareness for gender inequities that exist throughout sports.

United States milk companies created the Every Woman Sponsored fund in partnership with Girls on the Run, a non-profit organization that teaches life skills through interactive lessons and physical activity.

Per MilkPEP, a donation will be made to the fund every time a woman signs up for Team Milk, and the funding will go toward addressing the causes of physical, social and emotional health inequities.

In 2022, 26.2 offered sponsorships to women runners at the New York City Marathon. The 26.2 program was designed to feature female runners, provide female-centric training resources and offer nutritional, mental and physical expertise.

Additionally, MilkPEP announced that beginning on International Women’s Day (March 8), its “Gonna Need Milk” campaigns and content will only feature women for the remainder of the year.

"For far too long female athletes have been overlooked and under supported,” said Yin Woon Rani, chief executive officer for MilkPEP. “Our hope is that 26.2 is a reminder that milk is not only a powerful performance beverage for all athletes but an ally when it comes to equality in sport. We recognize that equality doesn't happen overnight but without bold change, progress cannot happen. Our 26.2 program works to shine a light on incredible female runners who are proving to future generations that their dreams matter while also serving as a kickoff to our larger dedication to feature only women in 100% of our campaigns. While we may not be able to bridge the gap alone, we are devoted to doing our part."

Added Liz Wian, vice president of partnerships and development at Girls on the Run International: “In a world where nearly only 5% of sports coverage is dedicated to women, it is time for change – it is time to prove to the next generation that their dreams matter. We are thrilled to be partnering with (MilkPEP) as they launch the Every Woman Sponsored fund to help address the root of gender inequality in sport.”

Women interested in obtaining a sponsorship can visit the 26.2 website online

Washington, D.C.-based MilkPEP is funded by US milk companies and focuses on educating consumers and increasing consumption of fluid milk.