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The World’s Most Powerful Women: October 21

Oct 21, 2016

The United Nations is supposed to be an advocate for gender equality, but it has an awfully puzzling way of showing it.

This year, it rejected seven female candidates vying to become the organization's first-ever female secretary general, choosing yet another man—former Portuguese Prime Minister Antonio Guterres—instead. Then about a week after it was clear Guterres would become the world's top diplomat, the UN gave us another head-scratcher. It appointed fictional heroine Wonder Woman as an honorary ambassador for “the empowerment of women and girls.”

There are three obvious problems with that. It gives the impression that the UN prefers a cartoon woman over a real, human one. The logic is also off. It's promoting a septuagenarian comic book character—who's older than the UN itself—to reach the next generation of women. And then there's Wonder Woman's appearance—a white American with laughable proportions who trots around in a cape and underwear, worthy of a truck mudflap, not the world stage.

This last point in particular has rankled members of the UN staff. Six hundred of them have signed an online petition asking current Secretary General Ban Ki-moon to reconsider the superhero's appointment. The petition says "it is alarming" that the UN would choose a character with an "overtly sexualized image" at a time when there is so much news the world over about the objectification of women and girls.

A UN spokesman has said that the organization has listened to staff concerns, but Wonder Woman's appointment ceremony is expected to proceed today, though a silent protest is planned. But at this point her tenure won't serve its stated purpose—female empowerment—but will represent the UN's own tone deafness instead.

clairezillman

EUROPE/MIDDLE EAST/AFRICA

The freedom to offend?

TV anchor Fatima Manji is lashing out at the Independent Press Standards Organization after it let comments about her hijab by Sun columnist Kelvin MacKenzie slide. In July, MacKenzie accused Channel 4 News of "editorial stupidity" for letting Manji, who wears a hijab, present the news when “there had been another shocking slaughter by a Muslim” in Nice. Manji says the press regulator's decision gives the "green light for newspapers to attack minorities and Muslims in particular."

Guardian

Cool to be square

After Facebook removed the Swedish Cancer Society's animated breast cancer awareness video (for which the social network later apologized), the non-profit changed the round breasts featured in the video to squares in an effort to dodge the platform's censors. "After trying to meet your control for several days without success, we have now come up with a solution that will hopefully make you happy: Two pink squares!" it said in an open letter to Facebook.

Guardian

THE AMERICAS

It's about time

Sequoia Capital—one of Silicon Valley's most prestigious venture capital firms, known for its investments in Apple, Google, and Instagram—just hired its first-ever U.S. female investment partner some 44 years after its founding. Jess Lee, who was most recently the CEO of fashion shopping site Polyvore, is joining Sequoia at a time when there are few female decision-makers at top venture capital firms in the U.S. 

Fortune

Out on a limb

Republican strategist Ana Navarro has launched a one-woman revolt against her party's nominee Donald Trump by repeatedly using the candidate's own language to bash him. Here's a look at the one incident that transformed her from a vaguely familiar talking head to a full-blown celebrity in this election cycle.

New Yorker

The right fit

Taylor Johnston is one of the businesswomen who's set out to design and sell workwear—pants, overalls and coveralls—for women. Women continue to break into jobs long-dominated by men, but their wardrobe options remain limited. Wearing work clothes cut for men is not only uncomfortable and unflattering, in a workshop or factory setting, oversized or ill-fitting garments can be downright dangerous. 

New York Times

ASIA-PACIFIC

Not doing enough?

Reflecting on her administration's first six months in power, the leader of Myanmar Aung San Suu Kyi said that it will “take time” to address her country’s ongoing humanitarian crisis and dismissed claims that she's not doing enough to defend its persecuted Rohingya Muslims. Scores of people were killed and villages were set on fire earlier this month in a military crackdown in response to the fatal attack of three police posts by assailants thought to be part of the Rohingya community.

Washington Post

A mass unveiling

In the Haryana state in India, teacher Manju Yadav started a campaign against a veil that Hindus and Muslims in Northern India are required to wear over their faces. She now has the support of people in 47 villages. "To keep us under control, men ask us to cover our faces," she says. "Ask a man to cover his face for a day, he will not be able to do it."

BBC

IN BRIEF

Why these women marched from the Lebanese border to Jerusalem

Washington Post

Cher is just "all right," according to Cher

Time

Target announces a posh new collection from Victoria Beckham

Fortune

Another woman says Donald Trump groped her

Fortune

Hillary Clinton and Taiwan’s newly-elected female president have more in common than you think

Ozy

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