Good morning, Broadsheet readers! There’s soon to be a new female Fortune 500 CEO in town, Time’s Up is tackling health care, and only six countries have nailed legal equality for women. Have a wonderful weekend.
• Legally speaking. Do you live in Belgium, Denmark, France, Latvia, Luxembourg, or Sweden? Well, lucky you.
Those are the six—count ‘em, six—countries that, in theory, have equal legal rights for women, according to a new World Bank study of 187 nations published Wednesday. It should be noted that 10 years ago, none of these countries recorded a perfect score against the institution’s metrics, meaning they’ve passed reforms over the past decade.
To make its assessment, the World Bank measures 35 indicators of legal equality by asking such questions as, “Can a woman legally register a business in the same way as a man” and, “Do women have the same rights to remarry as men?”
All told, the average global score is 74.7 out of 100, meaning the typical economy gives women three-quarters the rights offered to their male counterparts. For reference, Japan scored 79.4, United States came in at 83.8, and the U.K. and Canada tied with seven other countries at 97.5, just one spot behind the top tier.
The study makes the case that stronger laws can lead to stronger economies, since they aid in launching women into the workforce and keeping them there. “Economies that failed to implement reforms towards gender equality over the past ten years, for example, saw a smaller increase in the percentage of women working overall and in the percentage of women working relative to men,” World Bank CEO Kristalina Georgieva wrote in the report. At the same time, she argues, laws aren’t enough on their own. Laws “need to be meaningfully implemented—and this requires sustained political will, leadership from women and men across societies, and changes to ingrained cultural norms and attitudes.”
Based on that directive, a group of more than 30 female world leaders have impeccable timing. On Thursday, they published a letter pushing back against the erosion of women’s rights worldwide.
Signed by the likes of former New Zealand Prime Minister Helen Clark and former Argentinian Foreign Minister Susana Malcorra, the letter decries the failure to attain “a reality in which opportunities, freedoms, and rights are not defined by gender.”
But “even more concerning,” they write, is the belief, in some parts of the world, that women gaining basic rights is a “direct and destabilizing” threat to existing power structures. Such an attitude “can lead to efforts to roll back hard-won rights and frameworks agreed on in support of gender equality and women’s empowerment.”
That regression is fueling their action: the launch of the women’s new group called “Women Leaders—Voices for Change and Inclusion.” They too are tying their effort to women’s output. “Above all,” they write, “we seek to underscore that the risk posed by politics that seek to halt and erode gender equality is a risk not only to women, but also to all of humanity because half the population is prevented from contributing to its full potential.”
ALSO IN THE HEADLINES
• Join the club. There’s soon to be a new female Fortune 500 CEO in town. In 2020, Old Navy will spin off from Gap Inc. to become its own publicly-traded company, the parent company announced yesterday. Old Navy’s current president and CEO Sonia Syngal is staying on to lead the new entity, which, at $8 billion, is large enough to make the Fortune 500 on its own. That means she’ll join the way-too-small club of women Fortune 500 chief executives that currently stands at 27 following the departure of Geisha Williams from PG&E.
• Doctor’s orders. Time’s Up has its next division: Time’s Up Healthcare, a group devoted to eliminating sexual harassment and discrimination in medicine, pharmacy, home health care, and all health care fields. “It feels even more imperative because lives are at stake, and yet we are less interested,” says Dr. Esther Choo of the medical field’s slow pace addressing these issues.
• The right woman for the job. The European Union is in the midst of picking its first public prosecutor. Laura Codruța Kövesi is a leading candidate for the job, but she’s faced an opposition campaign from the government of her own country, Romania. Kövesi led high-profile prosecutions of corrupt politicians at home in Romania, earning her some enemies in government—but qualifying her for this job prosecuting crimes linked to the EU’s budget.
• En avant. The New York City Ballet has chosen its new leaders as it recovers from the alleged physical and emotional abuse perpetrated by its longtime ballet master-in-chief Peter Martins, his abrupt retirement, and the forced departure of male dancers who shared explicit photos of women without consent. Former star ballerina Wendy Whelan will lead the institution alongside Jonathan Stafford.
New York Times
MOVERS AND SHAKERS: Alicia Boler Davis, one of Mary Barra’s right-hand executives, will leave her job as GM’s head of global manufacturing; she’s reported to be joining Amazon. Martha Stewart will advise the Canadian marijuana producer Canopy Growth. Holly Shackleton was named editor-in-chief of Vogue International. Adrienne Lazarus will be chief executive at Bandier. Alison Coville will step down as president of Hudson’s Bay Company. Greta Van Susteren joins Gray Television as a national political analyst. Ita Buttrose was named chair of the Australian Broadcasting Corporation. Kristin Lowe is now chief creative officer in feature films at DreamWorks Animation. Liz Gateley will be Spotify’s head of creative development for original podcast content. Alorica promoted Colleen Beers to president of North America and Europe.
IN CASE YOU MISSED IT
• A case of the Mondays. Two Fortune alums, Jessi Hempel and Caroline Fairchild, are launching a new podcast for LinkedIn. Called Hello Monday, the show will focus on the role that work plays in people’s lives.
The Hollywood Reporter
• App-solutely. Yelp today launches a new feature that will let you see if a business is “women-owned.” A nice way to decide where to eat! And in more app news, Bumble introduced a new “Women in Bizz” feature that lets users connect with women only while networking on Bumble Bizz.
• Tax break lessons. Education Secretary Betsy DeVos is introducing a $5 billion federal tax credit for donations to private school scholarships—an effort to make progress on her school choice agenda despite receiving little support in Congress for the issue.
New York Times
• The cost of a crisis. The economic and political crisis in Venezuela has led to a shortage of, and sky-high prices for, contraceptives—and that, in turn, has led to an increase in dangerous, self-administered abortions. One woman, Beatriz, describes her life-threatening experience in this BuzzFeed piece.