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July 25, 2017

A few years ago, three female presidents presided over countries representing more than half of South America’s population: Brazil’s Dilma Rousseff, Argentina’s Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner, and Chile’s Michelle Bachelet. Now, after Rousseff was impeached and Kirchner confronts corruption charges, only Bachelet remains. But she too will be gone soon; her term is set to expire next year.

There was hope that the trio’s rise to power would usher in a new era of gender equality on the continent. But rather than delivering on that promise, their tenures seem to have triggered a dramatic recoil against parity in politics, according to the New York Times. Rousseff’s successor, for instance, appointed an all-male cabinet. And the conservative male politician who’s expected to replace Bachelet came under fire last month for telling a rape joke as he sought to rally a crowd.

Several factors—including some of their own making—challenged the women’s presidencies. The commodities boom petered out and hampered regional economies, while corruption scandals undercut their authority and agendas.

But the female leaders also say they are victims of blatant sexism. Kirchner was commonly referred to as a female horse and Rousseff’s likeness appeared on a lewd car decal. Bachelet, meanwhile, has decried editorial writers who slam her for being misguided by her male advisors, as if her decisions are not her own.

There are some bright spots in the women’s legacies. Bachelet, for one, created a ministry of women and gender equality, worked to reduce workplace discrimination and domestic violence, and continues to advocate for strengthening women’s reproductive rights. There’s also a larger lesson to be learned from their fates: As Lakshmi Puri, deputy executive director of UN Women, puts it, “In all of these countries where there have been such leaps forward on gender equality, the tide could easily recede.”

@clairezillman

 

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EUROPE/MIDDLE EAST/AFRICA

Cultural cure-all
As new GlaxoSmithKline CEO Emma Walmsley prepares to deliver her first full set of quarterly results next week, the Financial Times has a look at how she's tried to shake up the drug company's culture by instilling a sense of collaboration and accountability in its 100,000-strong workforce.
Financial Times
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Not far enough
As Liberia gets set to vote on Ellen Johnson Sirleaf's successor in October, Africa's first elected female president reflects on her 12-year tenure. Peace has prevailed under her watch, but the oil exploration she hoped would provide a much-needed cash injection has not materialized and the West African nation was one of the worst hit by Ebola in 2014. "We could have gone further," she says.
Guardian
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Strictly speaking
Esty Shushan and Estee Rieder-Indursky, two ultra-Orthodox feminists in Israel's Haredi community have launched a non-profit called Nivcharot or "the elected women" to advocate for women's representation in politics. Two political parties, Shas and United Torah Judaism, represent the Orthodox population in Israeli politics, but their 13 MPs and three government ministers are all men.
Washington Post
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THE AMERICAS

Snuffing out sexism
GoDaddy has managed to evolve from an Internet company known for its sexist advertising—bikini-clad models, graphic innuendos—to a workplace recognized as one of the best in tech for women. It pulled off that feat by targeting the small, subtle biases that can sway executives as they carry out a broad range of tasks, from evaluating employees to setting pay.
New York Times
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Support system
A sort of sports bra arms race has broken out among companies like Nike, Under Amour, and Lululemon as they lean on high-tech design and rigorous testing to woo female customers with the perfect bra.
Bloomberg
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Blemish on his record?
In one of Anthony Scaramucci's first TV interviews, the new White House communications director addressed his colleague Sarah Huckabee Sanders, the new press secretary, saying, "Sarah, if you're watching. I love the hair and makeup person that we had on Friday, so I'd like to continue to use the hair and makeup person." The remark drew criticism as sexist as it seemed Scaramucci was equating Sanders's looks with her ability to do her job. But Scaramucci says he was referring to his own appearance; Sanders also downplayed the comment as simply a compliment to the makeup artist.
Fortune
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ASIA-PACIFIC

Screening process
Five months after India's notoriously prudish censors banned Lipstick Under My Burkha as too "lady-oriented" (a decision that was later overturned), the critically acclaimed film has made its debut in India. Director Alankrita Shrivastava said she felt "numb" that her film was finally screening, but she hailed the showing of the movie, which follows four small-town Indian women, as a victory for the nation's women. 
Guardian
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All in the family
Japan's ubiquitous convenience store chain FamilyMarket, whose stores are known as "conbini," has a plan to plug the staffing gap it faces as the nation's population grows older. It wants to hire housewives on part-time, flexible schedules, but will also make it easier for them to take on supervisory roles.
Reuters
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IN BRIEF

The first female ‘Doctor Who' will be paid the same as the male doctors
Money
England women's rugby union squad contracts will end after World Cup
Guardian
Women still carry most of the world's water
Quartz
The English countess revolutionizing psychedelic drugs research
Vice
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PARTING WORDS

"I am an ordinary girl from Swat Valley. But if I had an ordinary father and an ordinary mother, I would have two children by now."
—Nobel Peace Prize winner Malala Yousafzai on her role models.
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