The World’s Most Powerful Women: July 4

Jul 04, 2017

At a funeral ceremony with military honor at Paris' Elysee Palace on Wednesday, France will bury a woman who represents "the best of what [the country] can achieve," according to President Emmanuel Macron.

Simone Veil, who died last week at age 89, survived Auschwitz as a child—"I am still haunted by the images, the odors, the cries, the humiliation," she said in 2005—and went on to become one of France's most respected politicians.

After her concentration camp was liberated, Veil studied law and worked as a judge before becoming France's first female general secretary of the Council of Magistrates in 1970. The role, Agence France-Presse reports, "served as a springboard for a political career that fundamentally changed France."

The next year, Veil threw herself behind a feminist campaign to overturn France's ban on abortion, a movement that sought to reverse the stigma of pregnancy termination and reduce the number of women dying from back-alley operations. While she pushed for decriminalizing abortions, she maintained that the practice should be the exception; "the last resort for desperate situations."

She continued her crusade after being named health minister, enduring insults from colleagues that compared abortions to the Nazis' mass murder of Jews. One lawmaker accused Veil of "genocide" and another spoke of embryos "thrown into the crematorium ovens," according to AFP.

"I did not imagine the hatred I would stir up," Veil said decades later.

The legislation legalizing abortion that eventually passed parliament in 1974 is known as the Veil law and is—even today—considered a pillar of women's rights in France.

But Veil's legacy reaches beyond women's reproductive rights; she is also credited with pushing open a door for female politicians. When she fought for the legalization of abortion before parliament in 1974, there were just nine women the 490-seat chamber; today there are 224.

-@clairezillman

EUROPE/MIDDLE EAST/AFRICA

Angela's agenda

Ahead of this week's G20 summit in Hamburg, Germany, Chancellor Angela Merkel said that leaders will have to focus on sustainable and inclusive economic growth rather than their own prosperity. Thirty demonstrations are registered to take place in Hamburg this week and Merkel said the summit will touch on some of the issues protesters will champion, such as wealth and consumption of resources, climate change, free markets, consumer protection, and upholding social standards.

Fortune

Drawing the line

British online fashion store ASOS is being praised for featuring swimsuit models with stretch marks rather than editing the lines out. Consumers see this as a win for body positivity. 

Fortune

Finding her voice

After singer Adele canceled the final two concerts of her world tour because of damaged vocal cords, fans gathered at London's Wembley Stadium anyway as part of the #SingForAdele campaign that urged her supporters to belt out the Grammy winner's set list on her behalf.

CNN

THE AMERICAS

A tricky father-daughter dance

The Washington Post takes a look inside the complicated world of Ivanka Trump in a new interview with the first daughter. Her unique role—both the child of and advisor to the U.S. president—is made all the more unprecedented by Donald Trump's unorthodox and unpredictable demeanor. There's one thing she already does differently: While advising her dad on business, she'd offer off-the-cuff opinions, but now she tries not to respond too quickly. 

Washington Post

Shaking things up

Hamburger chain Shake Shack was once a darling of the fast-casual dining industry, but the restaurant's sales fell 2.5% in the first quarter and it revised its 2017 comparable sales outlook downward. Suffice it to say, new CFO Tara Comonte has a lot on her plate, and she's bringing an unconventional resume to the table. She previously worked as CFO of Getty Images and as finance chief for McCann Worldgroup, a subsidiary of a publicly traded advertising company.

Wall Street Journal

Mind the gap

An analysis of the White House's annual report to Congress, released last week, found that women working at 1600 Pennsylvania earn an average salary of 80 cents for every dollar paid to their male colleagues. That gender pay gap is bigger than the national average of 82 cents on the dollar and is due, in large part, to the dearth of women in top administration jobs. 

Fortune

ASIA-PACIFIC

Challenging power

A video of policewoman Shrestha Thakur arguing with officials from India's Bharatiya Janata Party went viral as an instance of law enforcement standing up to politicians. But shortly after the altercation over a traffic violation, she was transferred to a different post in what critics say is retribution for her decision to challenge power. Thakur, meanwhile, says she's trying to treat the transfer positively.

BBC

Blind ambition

South Korea's new progressive president Moon Jae-in wants to overhaul the country's job application process to eliminate the importance placed on privilege, connections, and looks. In pushing for "blind hiring," Moon said that except in special cases, "job application forms should not require discriminatory factors such as education background, hometown, and physical condition."

Quartz

IN BRIEF

Black actresses still have to play maids on Broadway. How do they feel about it?

Washington Post

Horror is the only film genre where women appear and speak as often as men

Quartz

Beyoncé was even more involved in Jay-Z’s '4:44' than you think

Vulture

Meet Jasmin Moghbeli, Iranian-American marine and badass astronaut

New Yorker

The future of female tech leadership is thriving—in the United Arab Emirates

Quartz

PARTING WORDS

"At that time, women were still not allowed to fly combat aircraft, and when I closed my eyes and I saw myself flying something, it was something small and fast"

—Heather Wilson, the new U.S. Air Force secretary under President Trump, on contemplating a career as a pilot.

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