Good morning, Broadsheet readers. Valentina Zarya (@valzarya) here, filling in for Kristen on her birthday (wish her a good one!). A small part of Syria is a model of gender equity, a woman registers as a political candidate for the first time in Saudi Arabia’s history, and Adele breaks yet another record. Have a great Monday.
• Syria’s feminist utopia. Rojava is a little-known, informally autonomous Kurdish region in Northern Syria. Unlike in most of the Middle East, the women in the region are championed as leaders, educated, and given opportunities equal to those of their male counterparts. Rojava’s constitution outlines gender equality and religious freedom, and every position at every level of government includes both male and female leaders with equal power. New York Times
ALSO IN THE HEADLINES
• Following Zuck’s lead. Facebook is extending its parental leave policy to four months paid time off for mothers and fathers. The announcement comes just a week after CEO Mark Zuckerburg announced that he will be taking two months leave when his baby is born. WSJ
• Step forward for Saudi. Haifa al-Hababi, a 37-year-old architect, professor, and newspaper columnist, is the first woman to register as a candidate in the history of Saudi Arabian elections. She is one of about 1,000 women who are expected to run for office, and while al-Hababi and others like her are facing an uphill battle, she remains optimistic. “Things are changing here,” she says. NBC
• Adele’s latest records. Adele sold 3.38 million copies of her third album, 25, in the week since its release. This is the first time any artist has sold more than three million albums in one week, and this is the highest total for any artist since Nielsen Music started tracking sales in 1991. WSJ
• When Mary met Kate. Fortune‘s Kristen Bellstrom talks to Kate Spade CMO Mary Beech about the company’s holiday plans, the reasons she tapped icons Gloria Steinem and Iris Apfel for the brand’s latest ad campaign, and the lessons she brought to Kate Spade from Pixar, her previous employer. Fortune
• Party for equality. British writer and comedian Sandi Toksvig, along with journalists Sophie Walker and Catherine Mayer, are building Britain’s newest political party: the Women’s Equality Party (WE). The organization has more than 65 branches and tens of thousands of members. New York Times
MPW INSIDER MONDAYS
Each week, Fortune asks our Insider Network — an online community of prominent people in business and beyond — for career and leadership advice. Here’s some of the best of what we heard last week.
• Let’s get personal. The best way to create a relationship with your colleagues is to share your true self with them, says Valerie Grillo, chief diversity officer at American Express. Fortune
• Positive polarity. The secret to being a good manager is embracing “the polarity of leadership” or thinking in seemingly contradictory ways. For example, a leader must think long-term while also focusing on the daily ins and outs of running a business, says Michele Buck, Hershey’s president of North America. Fortune
• Heart over head. For startup founders, the ultimate decision-maker should be your gut, says Gesche Haas, founder of Dreamers//Doers, a community of entrepreneurial women. Fortune
IN CASE YOU MISSED IT
• Minting success. Mariam Naficy, founder and CEO of paper design company Minted, talks to Fortune about the ups and downs of entrepreneurship and how she saved her company from going under in the 2008 economic downturn. “I fail literally every day, sometimes several times a day. All I can hope is that my successes are outweighing those failures at the big-picture level.” Fortune
• Olympic win for women. Much of America’s success in next summer’s Olympics will be riding on female athletes, who have emerged as some of the best in the world. What’s behind this development? Title IX, a 43-year-old federal law that prohibits gender discrimination in any educational programs that receive government funding—including athletics. WSJ
• Brit’s on Snapchat. Lifestyle website Brit + Co., led by former Apple and Google manager Brit Morin, is the latest media company to sign on to Snapchat’s media hub, Discover. Fortune
• Holiday moviemaker. Whether you love or hate that the Christmas countdown begins at Halloween, you have Michelle Vicary to thank. Vicary, the EVP of programming and network publicity for Crown Media (the parent of Hallmark Channel), sat down with Fortune to talk about Hallmark’s holiday strategy and the impact of Christmas on its bottom line. Fortune
• R.I.P to a legendary VC. Kathryn Gould, one of the first female venture capitalist—and a Silicon Valley icon—passed away this weekend after a battle with cancer. Gould, the founder of Foundation Capital, was known for her impeccable track record as an investor, as well as her straight-shooting attitude. TechCrunch
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ON MY RADAR
What is it about Adele? New York Times
The women who buy into Black Friday Vice
A domestic worker became one of the world’s “most inspiring women” through photography Quartz
Charli XCX attempts to define feminism for pop music in a new film Slate
Success never feels the way you think it will.J.K. Rowling, on how she measures (or doesn't measure) success.