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The World’s Most Powerful Women: April 21

Good morning, WMPW readers! A female Ukrainian pilot captured by Russian-backed rebels may be set free, a woman is teaching kickboxing in Saudi Arabia, and Twitter is rushing to defend its new female exec in China. Got some buzz on a powerful woman? Get in touch, at: or @laurascohn. Have a fantastic Thursday!


Saving Savchenko Nadiya Savchenko, the Ukrainian air force pilot captured by Russian-supported rebels two years ago, may be set free. Savchenko, who was seized in eastern Ukraine, was sentenced to 22 years in prison in Russia last month. Her government has said she was wrongly accused of killing two Russian journalists, who in actuality died from artillery fire. And now, in a twist akin to a Hollywood movie plot, Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko said Savchenko could be released in exchange for two Russian officers who were jailed in Kiev this week. Since her capture, Savchenko, the first female graduate of Ukraine’s Air Force University, has become a national hero. Atlantic


Battling Google
Margrethe Vestager, the European Union’s competition commissioner, widened her battle against Google by accusing it of “imposing unjustified restrictions and conditions on manufacturers of devices running its Android mobile operating system.” The move, which we’ve been following closely here at WMPW, could deepen U.S. worries that Vestager is on a war path against U.S. tech. Along with Google, Vestager has targeted Apple, Amazon, and Qualcomm with antitrust and tax avoidance cases.
Financial Times


Fight like a girl
Halah Alhamrani, thought to be the first female kickboxing trainer in Saudi Arabia, is bringing the sport to the oil-rich nation. In a country that doesn’t even allow public schoolgirls to exercise, how does she do it? By training clients in her parents’ house.


Privacy warrior
Former German Justice Minister Sabine Leutheusser-Schnarrenberger is on a mission to defeat her country’s new data retention law. “This is about a right to privacy, a human right that is insidiously undermined by this new law,” she said.


A candid Stella
In an interview with Broadly, designer Stella McCartney talks about building a business around ethical fashion and notes that early in her career, a fashion exec implied that her label would fail because she’s a woman. Boy, did she prove him wrong.


Defending Chen
Twitter has rushed to the defense of Kathy Chen, its new managing director in China, who’s under fire for her past connection to China’s military and security services. But the company said her role is to sell advertising services to firms in China, Hong Kong, and Taiwan.
Wall Street Journal


Touting targets
Kate Jenkins, Australia’s new sex discrimination commissioner, said political parties should think about having quotas to attract women. “It’s not for lack of good women that we haven’t seen them come through the system,” Jenkins said. “Targets really focus the mind on getting women through and if targets don’t work, then quotas may well do that.”


Fresh blood at the BOJ
Takako Masai, a foreign exchange specialist at Shinsei Bank, has been chosen as a board member at the Bank of Japan. Masai, who will be the board’s only woman, starts at a time when central bankers are debating the merits of negative interest rates. She joins an exclusive club of female central bankers, including U.S. Federal Reserve Chairwoman Janet Yellen.


Raking it in
As some companies react to shareholder concerns about the high level of executive pay at their annual meetings, others look the other way. Case in point: Oracle. The company’s co-CEO Safra Catz made about $53.2 million last year, as did her co-CEO, Mark Hurd.
Wall Street Journal


A triumph for Tubman
Abolitionist Harriet Tubman will soon appear on the U.S. $20 bill. Treasury Secretary Jacob Lew announced that Tubman will replace much maligned President Andrew Jackson on the note, making her the first African American to grace U.S. paper currency and the first woman in more than a century. The move was hailed by Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton. What do you think? Which other women should appear on U.S. bills? Email me and share your views.


Dressing down Cruz
U.S. Senator Elizabeth Warren, in a post on her Facebook page, told Republican Senator Ted Cruz of Texas to stop complaining about the sacrifices he’s making by running for president. “I’ve got two words for you Ted: Boo hoo,” she said. Warren was responding to a Cruz fundraising email, in which he said he was lacking sleep and personal time. She said working parents with erratic work hours and no paid leave are the real victims.


Facing impeachment, embattled Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff is still going to the U.N.
Wall Street Journal

European online fashion retailer Zalando gets a boost from Beyonce
Business of Fashion

Queen Elizabeth celebrates her 90th birthday
New York Times

Debate rages over whether “female” is a dirty word

French far right’s Marine Le Pen may push “Brexit” on U.K. visit


No matter how wealthy she is, no woman turns down a good deal.
— Yen Kuok, daughter of Malaysian Chinese billionaire Robert Kuok, as she prepares to launch an international site for secondhand luxury goods called Guiltless International Limited