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The World’s Most Powerful Women: December 19

Lebanon is notorious for its startling lack of gender equality. Of 144 countries on the World Economic Forum’s global gender gap index it ranks 135th, thanks in large part to the scarcity of women in politics. At the time of the ranking, just 3% of its parliamentary seats and 5% of its ministerial positions were held by women.

Those pushing for more gender equality in the Middle Eastern nation might have sensed a glimmer of hope yesterday when Lebanon formed its new government following the election of President Michel Aoun, and included a minister of women’s affairs for the very first time. But in a turn of events fit for 2016, the appointee for that position is a man, Jean Oghassabian. With that in mind, it will come as no surprise that of the 29 other cabinet positions, a woman was named to just one.

Maha Yahya, director of the Carnegie Middle East Center, assessed the new cabinet this way: “new names; new ministries; same same.”

clairezillman

EUROPE/MIDDLE EAST/AFRICA

Powerless as punishmentItaly’s anti-establishment Five Star Movement party has stripped Virginia Raggi, the first female mayor of Rome and a Five Star member, of her powers after one of her closest advisors was arrested on corruption suspicions. Party leader Beppe Grillo wrote on his blog that Raggi “trusted the least trustworthy people in the world” and has admitted that “mistakes were made.” Now important decisions, like nominations, must be endorsed by party leadership.Guardian

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A scandal with legs
“Trousergate”—the scandal involving Theresa May’s $1,200 leather trousers—refuses to die. Mark Leftly of Time writes that’s because it’s exposed rifts in May’s government, and not just over Brexit. More generally, ministers have privately complained about May’s micro-management.
Time
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Back away
MPs in the U.K. voted to pass a bill on Friday to improve domestic violence support services in the country, meaning the legislation will go to committee for further consideration. It passed despite vehement opposition by MP Philip Davies, who spoke against it for over an hour, arguing that it was too focused on women’s rights and did not do enough to address men’s rights. As he spoke, survivors of domestic violence who were in the gallery turned their backs in protest.
Independent

THE AMERICAS

Dilma dishes
Five months after being ousted from power, former Brazilian president Dilma Rousseff is just as defiant now as she was then. In an interview with Al Jazeera, she maintains that she was the victim of a “parliamentary coup” and that current president Michel Temer—formerly her vice president—is an “illegitimate president” and a “traitor” who came to power by “tearing up the Brazilian constitution.”
Al Jazeera
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Shooting high
Stephanie Gaitley, the women’s basketball coach at Fordham University in New York, encourages her players to overload on classes so they can graduate early and pursue graduate degrees. She says she uses the approach even though it can interfere with practices and training. The reason? It’s a way for her to pinpoint high achievers. 
New York Times
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The right stuff
This Elle essay explores why exceptional women like Ivanka Trump can be such bad news. By being “smart enough, sweet enough, strong enough, soft enough, pure enough, sexy enough to satisfy all of our culture’s contradictory demands on women,” she “provides men with an excuse to blame women for their own pain and struggles while simultaneously assuring women that sexism only needs to be outwitted to be overcome.” 
Elle

 

ASIA-PACIFIC

On trial
The shadowy confidant of South Korean President Park Geun-hye will face charges of abuse of power, extortion, and attempted fraud in a trial that starts today. The last time Choi Soon-sil appeared in public, she told reporters that she had “committed a sin that deserves death.” South Korea’s Constitutional Court is reviewing Park’s impeachment. If it upholds the vote against her, she’ll be formally unseated and must undergo a direct investigation. Until then she is immune from charges.
NBC News

IN BRIEF

Scotland FM Nicola Sturgeon says her country must stay inside EU’s single market
Bloomberg

Hillary Clinton’s character goes all ‘Love Actually’ to sway the Electoral College on ‘Saturday Night Live’
Fortune

A day in the life of five girls in Bangladesh’s megacity
Refinery29

Ivanka Trump was auctioning off a charity coffee date. Then it disappeared from the Internet
Motto

Nigeria’s government is losing Amina Mohammed, its biggest champion of climate change awareness
Quartz

Felicity Jones was reportedly the highest-paid cast member in ‘Rogue One’
Hollywood Reporter

Oprah Winfrey’s publishing imprint officially has a name and two books slated for release
Bustle

PARTING WORDS

“They are fine for pushing the foot pedals in my car.”
--Actress Betty Grable on her famous legs. A photo of her was recently named one of Time's 100 Most Influential Photographs of All Time.