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The World’s Most Powerful Women: July 19

Being the spouse of a politician isn’t easy, given all the scrutiny that comes with the role. But it’s a position that can serve to humanize a candidate.

Melania Trump, until yesterday, pretty much chose to stick to the sidelines. In her speech at the Republican convention last night, Fortune‘s Tory Newmyer reports, Trump missed an opportunity to soften the image of her husband.

She also sparked controversy by making remarks that appeared to be similar to those made by Michelle Obama at the Democratic convention in 2008, the Los Angeles Times reports. Once the similarities were noted on Twitter, the spotlight on Trump only intensified. The global press picked up on it, with the Guardian saying her speech was “so nice it was recited twice,” and Le Monde reporting she borrowed the current first lady’s remarks “word for word.” Before her speech, Trump told NBC News she wrote the speech. In response to questions that arose after she spoke, campaign spokesman Jason Miller sent out a statement that did not address the issue directly, instead saying Trump’s “team of writers took notes on her life’s inspirations, and in some instances included fragments that reflected her own thinking.”

Trump, who was born in a village in Slovenia, did not move to New York for her modeling career until 1996. (She became a U.S. citizen in 2006.) If her husband wins, Trump will be the first foreign-born first lady since John Quincy Adams’ wife Louisa, who was born in London. And she will be the first first lady whose native language is not English.

Melania Trump has proven her marketability, having launched a line of jewelry on QVC that sold out in 45 minutes. But marketing a candidate who is wildly unpopular with female voters may turn out to be a much tougher task.

Laura Cohn

@laurascohn

EUROPE/MIDDLE EAST/AFRICA

Being Agnes B
Designer Agnes Bourgois, whose eponymous fashion business Agnes B has just turned 40, must need little sleep. Along with designing 10 collections a year, she is a photographer and also oversees a film company. Her clothing brand, known for its striped tops, has made her one of the richest women in France.
Financial Times

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When women win in Africa
Professor Aili Mari Tripp visited Uganda in the early ’90s to determine whether her theory that war was elevating women to the top level of government was right. Turns out, her hunch was spot on. Tripp, a professor at the University of Wisconsin at Madison, has since seen the trend play out in post-conflict Liberia and Rwanda, and has chronicled the phenomenon in her new book “Women and Power in Postconflict Africa.”
Washington Post


A deal-making dilemma
Saudi Arabia’s Public Investment Fund wants to make more investments like the $3.5 billion it sunk into Uber in June. The fund’s overtures pose a sort of moral dilemma for Silicon Valley—forcing businesses to weigh the fund’s record and financial firepower against what it stands for, such as harsh policies toward women.
Fortune

THE AMERICAS



Women for Trump
Donald Trump has an unusual mix of female convention speakers lined up. Fortune‘s Valentina Zarya notes that his list has 24 women, more than the 19 who spoke at the event four years ago. Along with his wife, Trump’s list includes his daughters, a soap star, a golfer, and outspoken female critics of Hillary Clinton.
Fortune

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The Ghostbusters gap
I know I keep writing about the new Ghostbusters movie, but this is worth noting. Reviews of the film, which brought in a solid $46 million over the weekend and has four female leads, appear to vary significantly by gender. According to IMDB, men give the film 3.6 out of 10; women rate it 7.7 out of 10.
Washington Post

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Martha and the millennials
It’s a good thing to be able to change with the times. Lifestyle guru Martha Stewart is trying to appeal to millennials by loosening up in her public appearances, an effort she says is “just evolution.”
New York Times

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Keeping her eye on the prize
Sometimes it’s tough at the top. Defending Olympics champion Gabby Douglas, who fell off the balance beam two times before qualifying for Rio, will do her last bit of pre-Olympic training at Martha and Bela Karolyi’s ranch, a quiet setting that will allow her to focus on the sport without being distracted by journalists, family members or agents.
New York Times

ASIA-PACIFIC



Leave for harassment
If you’re a woman working in India’s central government who’s filed an official complaint of sexual harassment, you are now eligible to get 90 days of paid leave while the claim is investigated.
Live Mint

IN BRIEF


Donald Trump names Theresa “Omarosa” Manigault director of African-American outreach
Fortune


Why the Taylor Swift episode is a good reminder to take Snapchat seriously
Fortune


BBDO names Robin Fitzgerald as its first female chief creative officer in the U.S.
Ad Age


Britain’s Theresa May to meet with Angela Merkel to talk Brexit
Bloomberg


Poll shows registered voters think Hillary Clinton would be better at handling U.S. race relations than Donald Trump
Wall Street Journal


American swimmer qualifies for Olympics after beating Crohn’s disease
New York Times

 

PARTING WORDS

I want to conquer the world in a moment.
—Moldovan entrepreneur Evghenia Burlac, who was recently named to Management Today's 35 Women Under 35 list