The World’s Most Powerful Women: May 11

May 11, 2017

British Prime Minister Theresa May has become an unlikely hero for millennial women, who are inspired by her fashion choices and unflashy political style. These "Mayllennials" are creating social media accounts and memes about the PM, but the vast majority remain anonymous for fear of getting trolled or harassed for expressing their support.

Most wouldn't even speak to BuzzFeed for the publication's piece about the trend, and one supporter explained why: "You'll notice [May]'s official social media pages get very little engagement from her supporters, and I think it's all for the same reasons—fear of negative responses and arguments starting as a result."

This desire to keep support of a female politician under wraps reminds me of the secret Facebook group Pantsuit Nation during the days of Hillary Clinton's presidential campaign. Millions of people—many of whom were women—joined the group and were vocal supporters of Clinton on the platform. And yet few were willing to voice their opinions in public. The explanations they gave me for an August story about this tendency are remarkably similar to the reasons behind the anonymity of May's supporters. “I just couldn’t fight this battle," said one woman.

It's a shame that so many women feel they have to hide their support of politicians—particularly female ones—online. There is already a paucity of women in power (less than 20% of Congress is female), and they are often held to much higher standards than their male counterparts. Hiding one's support of women leaders is not only ineffective in quieting the trolls and raising the level of civil discourse on social media, but does little to advance gender parity in government. A better fix may be for more women to dive into the political fray—both in the digital world and the real one.

—Valentina Zarya (@valzarya)

EUROPE/MIDDLE EAST/AFRICA

GeenStijl at a standstill

Dutch blog GeenStijl has been hit by an advertising boycott after a campaign launched by more than 140 female journalists, columnists, and politicians. The influencers accused GeenStijl of sexism, racism and homophobia and accused advertisers—which include Rabobank and the Dutch ministry of defence—of "paying the salaries of the most influential trolls on the internet."

BBC

Margrethe the sleuth

This profile of Margrethe Vestager, head of the EU’s directorate general for competition, describes her as a "chief sleuth" whose job is to "protect the union’s vision of a fair market." She has already driven investigations of Amazon, Fiat, Gazprom, Google, McDonald’s, and Starbucks—and she still has two and a half years remaining in her term. 

Bloomberg

Federica's plea to Trump

Federica Mogherini, the EU’s foreign policy chief, on Tuesday urged the Trump administration not to cut funding to the U.N., nor to withdraw from the Paris agreement, which is intended to combat climate change. “I am sure there is room for the U.S. administration to find its own path, sticking to the rules that the world has agreed together,” she said at a United Nations Security Council meeting.

New York Times

Boko Haram back at the table

Days after securing the release of 82 of the abducted Chibok girls kidnapped by Boko Haram, the Nigerian government is going back to the negotiating table, using captured militant commanders as bargaining chips to free the rest. More than two years have passed since Boko Haram fighters stormed a boarding school and abducted nearly 300 female students.

New York Times

THE AMERICAS

Kellyanne back in action

After a brief hiatus from the media circuit, Kellyanne Conway gave interviews to CNN's Anderson Cooper and Chris Cuomo on Tuesday night in which she insisted that President Trump's firing of FBI director James Comey had nothing to with his investigation into ties between Trump associates and Russian operatives. In addition to inspiring an eye roll from Cooper that quickly went viral, she told Cuomo that questioning the president's motives for firing Comey was "inappropriate."

Fortune

Demonstrating against DeVos

When education secretary Betsy DeVos delivered the commencement address at Bethune-Cookman University—a historically black institute of higher education—on Wednesday, she was greeted with turned backs and booing. Part of the controversy stems from her comments about historically black schools: She praised them as "pioneers" of the school choice movement when in fact they were founded at a time when most universities across the U.S. only served whites.

Fortune

ASIA-PACIFIC

Not comforting news

The resolution of the Korean “comfort women” issue appears in jeopardy with the election of South Korean president Moon Jae-in. At a news conference on Tuesday, his chief cabinet secretary made clear that Japan would not renegotiate the agreement reached in December 2015, which was for Japan to provide $8.3 million in compensation to Korean women who were forced to have sex to Japanese soldiers before and during World War II.

Asahi Shimbun

News summaries by Valentina Zarya @valzarya

IN BRIEF

Women are the least optimistic about America’s future, survey finds

Fortune

The sorry state of Arab men

Economist

Anne Morrissy Merick, who fought for female reporters during the Vietnam War, dies at 83

Los Angeles Times

Melania Trump is joining her husband on his first foreign trip as president

Fortune

The Argentinian lesbian reggaeton artist taking on the 'supermachos'

The Guardian

'Girlboss' is another disappointing take on female entrepreneurship

Economist

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