Yesterday, thousands of people took to the streets to participate in May Day demonstrations for International Workers' Day, with many marching in support of women’s rights in the workplace in particular. The organizers of this year’s International Women’s Strike wore red during the New York City march in solidarity with workers and women; given the turbulent political climate, some predicted it would be the biggest May Day in recent history.
Today, the release of two new books about women in the workplace continues the conversation about the divergent understandings of the history, challenges, and perceptions of women in the workplace.
Fortune’s exclusive excerpt of Ivanka Trump's new book, Women Who Work: Rewriting the Rules for Success, provides a brief glimpse into how the first daughter and assistant to the president thinks about maintaining a work-life balance. While the book was written before the election, Trump writes about how being in the spotlight led her to embrace portraying herself as a working mother on social media: “I began to wonder whether I had been doing women who work a disservice by not owning the reality that, because I’ve got an infant, I’m in my bathrobe at 7 a.m. and there’s pureed avocado all over me,” Trump writes. While Trump has advocated for expanded paid family leave, equal pay, and child care provisions, her father’s administration has done nothing to advance those causes so far.
In her new book, The H-Spot: The Feminist Pursuit of Happiness, also out today, Jill Filipovic looks at the historical reasons for why one might want to “rewrite the rules” for women’s success in the first place, and why, in this world of “unfinished feminism,” women face unprecedented standards of perfection.
“The idealized vision of 1950s womanhood that still permeates our politics ignores the fact that staying home may not actually make mothers happy. Unfortunately, there’s no robust feminist ideal to counter it,” Filipovic writes in an excerpt published in The New York Times. “Instead, we fall back on the language of ‘choice’: that it’s best if women simply get to choose to work or stay home, as if these choices are inherently equal and made without carrying the cultural baggage of sacrificial American motherhood. Or the fact that inhospitable workplaces and economic constraints mean many women never have a real choice in the matter at all.”
According to Filipovic, working outside the home correlates with better mental and physical health and higher reported levels of happiness. “Mothers who work are also good for families: Daughters of working mothers tend to be higher achieving, work themselves, make more money and spend more time with their children than do daughters of women who did not work; men who were raised by working mothers do more household work and help more with childcare than sons of stay-at-home moms,” she writes. “And women’s presence in the workplace is good for women in the aggregate: Men who have stay-at-home wives are more likely than men with working wives to penalize their female co-workers, denying them promotions and viewing them unfavorably.”
But too many women can’t reap those benefits and are being “pushed” out of the workplace by inadequate parental leave and childcare policies. And until politicians like Ivanka’s father rewrite the rules of workplace provisions for working mothers, that’s unlikely to change.
Le Pen's last-minute maneuver
With just five days to go before the French presidential runoff, National Front candidate Marine Le Pen attacked her opponent, front-runner and former investment banker Emmanuel Macron, for representing "global finance, arrogance and the reign of money. Polls forecast Macron will beat Le Pen 61% to 39%.
Merkel talks trade
German Chancellor Angela Merkel brought a delegation of business leaders with her to the United Arab Emirates yesterday, where she discussed trade and refugee policy with Crown Prince Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan in preparation for July's G20 summit in Hamburg. In Saudi Arabia on Sunday, Merkel said the EU remains interested in securing a free trade agreement with the Gulf states.
Austrian President Alexander Van der Bellen called for all women to wear headscarves in solidarity with Muslims as part of an effort to counter "rampant Islamophobia." "It is every woman’s right to always dress how she wants, that is my opinion on the matter," he said during a school visit. In January, Austria's populist Freedom Party pushed a partial ban of full-face veils through parliament, though the measure has not yet taken effect.
In Turkey, women’s rights and protections are being curbed at an alarming rate: 414 women were killed in 2015-16, most by close family members, up from 294 in 2014. While Turkey does have relatively strict protections for women enshrined in law, the problem is that most of those laws are not enforced, due to the rapid appointment of inexperienced judges after the July 2016 coup.
Michelle Obama's initiative ends
The Trump administration is immediately shuttering former First Lady Michelle Obama’s “Let Girls Learn” educational program, according to internal documents obtained by CNN. The Obamas founded the program in 2015 to help support girls’ education in developing countries. The administration also announced a change to the former first lady’s nutritional school lunch program that would provide schools with more “regulatory flexibility.”
President Donald Trump said on Friday that he thinks Senator Elizabeth Warren is his most likely challenger for the presidency in 2020. In an interview with The Guardian, Warren did not rule out a run for the White House, saying, "We are no longer a country that believes we can do politics only once every four years, or even once every two years, no longer a country that says that democracy is only about elections and that it will tend to itself in the time periods between elections."
In a letter to Urban Outfitters shareholders, CtW Investment Group blamed the company’s subpar performance on the “extreme insularity” of its directors, pointing out that just two of nine people on its board are women—and one of them is the wife of CEO Richard Hayne. "For a company that is so reliant on global sourcing and focused on women," CtW executive director Dieter Waizenegger wrote, "it is surprising that the board consists of largely Caucasian males with law and finance backgrounds."
Crude critique of quotas
Former Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott called the Australian Human Rights Commission’s proposal for gender quotas “politically correct rubbish” and “anti-men.” The proposal was created as part of a senate inquiry into whether government contractors should have to demonstrate efforts to achieve gender balance.
The International Olympic Committee is fielding proposals from sports federations for new mixed events that will help the IOC reach its goal of making the 2020 Tokyo games the first to achieve gender parity in Olympic history.
News summaries by Linda Kinstler @lindakinstler
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MI5 ignored warnings about a Soviet spy because they came from a woman
What it's like to be a female lineworker
Meet Afghanistan's female activists
Senator Kirsten Gillibrand is "ruling out" 2020 run for president
Megyn Kelly's first day of work at NBC
--Barbra Streisand, on how sexism in Hollywood drove her to start making her own films.