The World’s Most Powerful Women: June 7

Jun 07, 2017

When U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley spoke before the UN Human Rights Council yesterday, she refused to commit the U.S. to staying or leaving the group.

Instead, she called on the body to alter how it operates, by eliminating what she called its anti-Israel bias and changing the regional bloc voting system that's allowed some of the world's worst human rights violators to join.

In op-ed ahead of her address, Haley accused the council of "whitewash[ing] brutality" committed by its own members, citing as prime examples Venezuela—"whose government shoots protesters in the street," she wrote—and Cuba—"whose government imprisons thousands of political opponents." They can get away with such acts "because they have been elected to the UN Human Rights Council, whose members are—on paper—charged with 'upholding the highest standards' of human rights."

Haley is hardly the first to rebuke the council on these points, but her remarks carried a great deal of weight since an American withdrawal from the group—many fear—could cripple rights protections and let abusive members get away with even more.

At the same time, her crusade seems at odds with the actions of her own administration. For instance, Haley disparaged Saudi Arabia's human rights record on Tuesday, listing it as an elected council member that doesn't uphold the “highest standards” of human rights at home. Meanwhile, on the president's visit to Saudi Arabia last month, Trump administration officials signaled that they are willing to publicly overlook repression if it means strengthening economic and security ties. Plus, President Donald Trump himself has made friendly overtures to strongmen like Philippines President Rodrigo Duterte and Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan. In May, Trump told Duterte, who's accused of overseeing a government-sanctioned massacre of drug dealers, that he's doing an "unbelievable job" and invited him to the White House.

But Haley seems determined to beat this drum even if she's doing it alone. After all, it was her delegation that demanded a vote on Saudi Arabia's candidacy for the UN Commission on the Status of Women, rather than allow the kingdom—notorious for its ill treatment of women—to join by acclamation. While the move didn't derail Saudi Arabia's nomination, it was a step the U.S. had failed to take against oppressive regimes—notably, Iran in 2014—in the past.

@clairezillman

EUROPE/MIDDLE EAST/AFRICA

Making it work

German discount retailer Lidl has enlisted model, fashion designer, and Project Runway host Heidi Klum to develop a new clothing line as the chain pushes beyond the low-priced groceries it’s best known for. Lidl says the collection will be its most premium range to date and will be sold in stores across Europe and the U.S. later this year.

Bloomberg

In the fast lane

Bozoma Saint John, a native of Ghana, is leaving her job as head of global consumer marketing at Apple Music for the role of chief brand officer at Uber. Saint John won acclaim for her on-stage demo at Apple's WWDC event last year and the $50 million sponsorship deal she struck with Beyonce while head of PepsiCo's music and entertainment marketing. Saint John's move to Uber comes at a time when the ride-sharing company is working to shed its macho culture—it also fired more than 20 employees yesterday as part of its harassment probe—and diversify its workforce.

Fortune

Against the grain

U.K. Prime Minister Theresa May has proven—once again—that some questions have no good answers. In a new interview, she was asked: What's the naughtiest thing you ever did? Her response: "I have to confess that when me and my friends used to run through the fields of wheat, the farmers weren't too pleased." In a surprise to no one, the Internet had a lot to say about that.

Fortune

THE AMERICAS

You can go your own way

In a speech yesterday, Canadian Foreign Minister Chrystia Freeland said Canada must step up its leadership role on the world stage as the U.S. turns inward. While never mentioning Donald Trump's name, Freeland rejected the U.S. president's withdrawal from the Paris climate agreement, his protectionist trade policies, and his efforts to close the nation's borders to refugees. "The fact that our friend and ally has come to question the very worth of its mantle of global leadership, puts into sharper focus the need for the rest of us to set our own clear and sovereign course," she said. 

CBC

Defensive driving

General Motors CEO Mary Barra yesterday fended off a proposal by hedge fund manager David Einhorn of Greenlight Capital to restructure the company's stock and reshape its board, as shareholders overwhelmingly backed her efforts to rev up the company's stalled share price. But that doesn't resolve Barra's challenges: GM shares traded at $34.25 yesterday, 16% lower than when Barra became CEO, despite solid profits and moves aimed at selling or shutting down money-losing operations.

Fortune

ASIA-PACIFIC

Calling for release

The U.S. State Department has called for the release of three labor rights activists who'd conducted an investigation into a Chinese company making Ivanka Trump-branded shoes. State Department spokeswoman Alicia Edwards said it's "concerned" by reports that one activist was being detained and two others are missing. She said labor activists have been critical in helping U.S. companies understand worker conditions in Chinese factories in their supply chains.

Reuters

League of their own

The Canadian Women’s Hockey League, founded in 2007, is adding a team in China, making it one of the first North American professional sports leagues to field a team in Asia. Beijing’s Kunlun Red Star hockey club will have a women’s team in the C.W.H.L. and play its home games in Shenzhen. An investment in the C.W.H.L. from China could accelerate the league's push to pay its players, who currently earn no salaries. 

New York Times

Reviewing Roy

Booker Prize-winning Indian author Arundhati Roy is back with her second novel titled, The Ministry Of Utmost Happiness, 20 years after her first widely-acclaimed success, The God of Small Things. The book came out yesterday and will be published in 30 countries. The BBC calls it "a coruscating and ambitious novel about India," and has a run-down of reviews from other publications. Roy has been a vocal critic of Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

BBC

IN BRIEF

EU's gender gap on pensions is twice as big as its pay divide

Financial Times

This company wants to make an Elizabeth Warren action figure

Boston Globe

In its second year, Women's Golf Day grows by 68%

Golf

U.S. Second Lady Karen Pence just introduced 15,000 bees to the vice president's residence

Associated Press

A women’s rights activist was detained in Saudi Arabia

The Cut

All products and services featured are based solely on editorial selection. FORTUNE may receive compensation for some links to products and services on this website.

Quotes delayed at least 15 minutes. Market data provided by Interactive Data. ETF and Mutual Fund data provided by Morningstar, Inc. Dow Jones Terms & Conditions: http://www.djindexes.com/mdsidx/html/tandc/indexestandcs.html. S&P Index data is the property of Chicago Mercantile Exchange Inc. and its licensors. All rights reserved. Terms & Conditions. Powered and implemented by Interactive Data Managed Solutions