As Canada turned 150 years old this weekend, Fortune published a story on why the United States is finally showing its northern neighbor some love. One reason cited by contributor Diane Francis is Prime Minister Justin Trudeau's exertion of "soft power" around the globe. But Americans should applaud another Canadian trait: 82.2% of women there, between ages 25 and 54, were working or looking for work in 2016, compared to 74.3% in the U.S.
The Wall Street Journal breaks down how the two nations' female labor forces mirrored one another following World War II as women took up jobs outside the home, "boosting household incomes and national production, while opening new opportunities for women themselves." Women's labor force participation rate in both countries reached close to 76% two decades ago.
But in the late 1990s, those trend lines diverged, with female workforce participation slipping in the U.S. as it climbed higher in Canada.
While economic conditions could factor into the relatively high share of Canadian women who work, the implementation of female-friendly policies could also be at play, according to the Journal:
Canada’s federal government encouraged more two-working parent households in the late 1990s and early 2000s by cutting tax rates, adding support for child care and expanding paid parental leave. Quebec’s provincial government introduced universal day care.
Some economists argue that implementing such policies is not a sure-fire way to increase women's participation in the workforce and, in turn, to boost the overall economy.
But it is worth noting that International Monetary Fund Managing Director Christine Lagarde specifically called out Canada's "rapid progress in female labor force participation" in a speech last year.
It "was no accident," she said. "[I]t reflects deliberate and targeted policy measures."
No strings attached
Ana Brnabic, Serbia's first female and first openly-gay prime minister, has faced criticism from conservative politicians that she's a puppet of President Aleksander Vucic. They argue that Vucic is using his seemingly progressive pick for a premiere to cover up his alleged human rights abuses. Brnabic defended her role in an address to parliament last week. "I have big goals as I look to the future. Let’s put the past together where it belongs—to the past.”
Just keep swimming
Daily life in Zanzibar, an island off the coast of Tanzania, centers around the sea, yet many women there never learn to swim. The absence of modest swimwear for the majority-Muslim population is thought to discourage them from taking up the skill. The Panje Project is changing that by teaching local women to swim while providing them with burkinis. National Geographic has a photo essay—"Burkini Island"—that captures the NGO's work.
The U.S. has denied the visas of six young women from Afghanistan who were planning to take part in a global robotics competition. Afghan technology leader and TIME 100 Person of the Year Roya Mahboob, who organized her country's team, says its members cried "all the day" after they failed to obtain the required paperwork.
Laugh a little
The New Yorker is returning to its roots with more humor—comic essays and cartoons. Emma Allen, 29, is leading the charge as the magazine's new cartoon editor.
A public apology
After entrepreneur Sarah Kunst told The New York Times that Dave McClure, co-founder of venture fund 500 Startups, had sexually harassed her as the two discussed potential work opportunities, McClure apologized publicly. In a Medium post titled "I'm a Creep. I'm Sorry," McClure wrote: "I made advances towards multiple women in work-related situations, where it was clearly inappropriate."
Plotting against Pelosi
Following several huge election losses, Democrats are starting to see their longtime leader in the House of Representatives, Nancy Pelosi (D–Cali.), as a liability. During her 14-year tenure, she's become a piñata for Republicans who have demonized her—correctly or not—as everything that's wrong with the left, and some liberals are seeking a change at the top.
Don't get the wrong idea
New research by The New York Times shows that men and women still don't feel comfortable working or socializing alone together to the extent that some think it's best to avoid such situations altogether. The findings help explain why women still don’t have the same opportunities as men: "When men avoid solo interactions with women—a catch-up lunch or late night finishing a project—it puts women at a disadvantage."
Join the moovement
Delhi-based photographer Sujatro Ghosh has launched a viral photography project that shows women wearing cow masks. It's intended to prompt the question: does India care more about cattle or women? Cow slaughter is banned in several Indian states and punishment for the act is stringent, whereas justice for female victims of sexual violence is often delayed—if delivered at all.
Tokyoites First, an upstart political party headed by the city's governor Yuriko Koike, became the metropolitan assembly's biggest seat-holder in an election on Sunday. The result comes as Koike has adopted some rhetoric of the global populist movement. It also threatens the agenda of Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, whose party secured its lowest number of seats ever.
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—Meg Skinner, 91, who plays on the San Diego Splash, a team in a basketball league for women age 80 and older.