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The World’s Most Powerful Women: September 26

September 26, 2016

Contributing Editor Laura Cohn is filling in for Claire Zillman today through Wednesday.

Some of the most powerful women in global politics are facing major leadership tests in the coming weeks.

Angela Merkel, whose party took a beating in Germany’s most recent regional elections, is pressing other EU countries to follow her lead and open their doors to immigrants in an attempt to alleviate Europe’s refugee crisis. At a press conference in Vienna over the weekend, Merkel bluntly summed up her position, saying, “In view of the many refugees who are already with us, other EU countries will have to jump in,” adding that Europe’s approach to asylum applicants is “too slow.”

For Hillary Clinton, the test is—of course—tonight’s debate against Donald Trump. Political pundits say the New York event, the first of three presidential debates, could be watched by 100 million viewers—an audience more typically reserved for the Super Bowl. If that weren’t pressure enough, a poll released yesterday by the Wall Street Journal revealed that the debates will be key to the decisions of 34% of voters. Clinton is ahead of Trump in the polls, but not by a wide margin.

We don’t know yet whether Merkel will win over Europe—and whether Clinton will win over voters. But here’s something to think about. In a piece in Politico, another female power broker, former Australian Prime Minister Julia Gillard, writes that while she expected male and female politicians to have equal opportunities by now, sadly, “that dream is still elusive.” If both Merkel and Clinton prevail in their respective battles, perhaps Gillard’s dream will have a better chance of becoming a reality.

lauracohn

Be sure to check out the latest episode of Fortune’s Broad Strokes, in which Fortune’s Kristen Bellstrom and Valentina Zarya talk about how Brangelina’s breakup is being covered and the latest gender initiatives at the UN.

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EUROPE/MIDDLE EAST/AFRICA

Jo’s legacy
Brendan Cox, the husband of MP Jo Cox, who was murdered in June, wrote a touching op-ed in which he called on all humanity to carry on his wife’s optimism and her belief that human empathy is a powerful force for change.New York Times

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Tough at the top
This piece argues that Emma Walmsley, who was appointed CEO of GlaxoSmithKline last week, is facing a number of challenges in her new role. For instance, Walmsley, considered the most powerful woman in British business, must prove she can apply her consumer product background to the pharma industry.
Financial Times

THE AMERICAS

Break-out moment
Politico has a good look at the very moment Hillary Clinton stepped into her complicated role with the American public—a 1992 60 Minutes episode in which she defended her husband after he was accused of having a 12-year affair. She presented herself as forthright but defensive, and feisty but dutiful.
Politico
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Baby on board
This report is a comprehensive take on the policies KKR introduced last year to make its working environment more family friendly. For instance, it pays for babies and nannies to travel on business trips with new moms.
Wall Street Journal
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Shattering a myth
One excuse often given for the lack of women on executive teams is that there is no pipeline of talented women to choose from. Grubhub CEO Matt Maloney, whose eight-member team is 50% female, says the idea that there is no such pipeline is a total myth. Bravo.
Fortune

ASIA-PACIFIC

Alone in India
Meet Pami Dua, who was just appointed as the only female member of India’s six-member monetary policy committee. A professor at the Delhi School of Economics, Dua has been recognized internationally for economic forecasting.
Live Mint

IN BRIEF

Jane Pauley to anchor “Sunday Morning” on CBS
New York Times

Why India’s young rural women are being put to work in Bangalore
New York Times

Heidi Cruz returns to Goldman Sachs
Bloomberg

Hacking at Yahoo raises questions about Verizon deal
New York Times

Uber’s longtime director of communications, Nairi Hourdajian, is leaving
Recode

Listen to Great British Bake Off Star Nadiya Hussain talk about her arranged marriage, and being a role model
BBC

Swedish soprano Nina Stemme returns to the NY Metropolitan Opera
New York Times

PARTING WORDS

“The person you are is more important than how lucky you are. It’s all down to what you put in.”
Clare Smyth, the first female British chef to receive three Michelin stars