The World’s Most Powerful Women: December 21

December 21, 2016, 8:10 AM UTC

When German Chancellor Angela Merkel announced her bid for reelection last month, expectations were that she would likely win a fourth term—but that a terrorist attack could alter the odds.

Though a motive is still unknown and the culprit is still at large, it’s assumed that the tragedy that occurred Monday when a truck plowed through a Christmas market in Berlin killing at least 12 people was an act of terrorism. ISIS claimed responsibility for it yesterday.

Shortly after the incident, Merkel’s critics cast it as a result of her liberal immigration policy, with one leading nationalist politician referring to the victims as “Merkel’s dead.” In an unusual step, even Merkel was quick to address reports that a migrant was responsible for the attack. (Initially, German authorities had detained a Pakistani man who’d entered Germany as a refugee, but they released him yesterday on lack of evidence.)

The speed with which the tragedy shifted to an analysis of Merkel’s immigration policy indicates just how precarious her position is and proves that the situation she and her supporters feared is now here. For further proof, the language in her address yesterday dripped with double-meaning as she referred to the possibility that an asylum seeker had carried out the attack. That, she said, “would be extremely hard for us to bear,” and it “would be particularly repugnant for all those Germans, who toil daily to help refugees.”




Picked by the PopePope Francis has appointed Barbara Jatta, an Italian historian and longtime Vatican official, as the new director of the Vatican Museums, which has one of the world's pre-eminent art collections. The move makes Jatta the first woman to hold one of the most prestigious jobs in the art world and the most prominent female administrator at the Vatican.Wall Street Journal


Taking off
Flybe, a regional European airline based in Exeter, U.K., has named Christine Ourmieres-Widener as its new CEO. Ourmieres-Widener previously worked at Air France and Air France-KLM and served as CEO of CityJet, an airline operating mainly out of London City airport. She is currently global sales executive for American Express Global Business Travel.
Irish Times

Refining her role
Isabel dos Santos is the billionaire daughter of Angola’s president, head of the country’s state oil company, and is often called Africa's richest woman. In speaking to the FT, she laid out how the oil firm Sonangol will deal with the oil price crash by splitting into three separate units. Dos Santos took control of the company in June under a presidential decree by her father, but has denied all allegations of nepotism or corruption. “My drive has always been to promote the next generation of African entrepreneurs and to establish a vision of leadership for African economies,” she says.
Financial Times



Can she cut it?
Three years ago, Tiffany hired design director Francesca Amfitheatrof to revive the storied jewelry company. Despite buzzy brand collaborations and celebrity ad campaigns, she still faces severe headwinds—a failed joint venture with Swatch, a strong dollar, and a brand that's struggling for relevance—as well as the daunting challenge of trying to design jewelry that appeals to everyone.

Protesting with a petition
IBM CEO Ginni Rometty continues to catch heat for the open letter she wrote to President-elect Donald Trump about creating "new collar" jobs. A few dozen IBM employees have signed a petition that says Trump's immigration stance runs afoul of IBM values. "We call on IBM to expand diversity recruitment programs, and we assert our right to refuse participation in any U.S. government contracts that violate constitutionally protected civil liberties," the petition says. 

Premium paid leave
Yesterday, the Washington, D.C., city council passed one of the most generous paid leave packages in the nation. The bill provides employees with eight weeks of paid leave after the birth or adoption of a child, six weeks of caregiver leave, and two weeks of personal medical leave. Workers will receive 90% of pay, up to $1,000 per week.



Stats are deceiving
Mohanlalganj in the northern state of Uttar Pradesh has elected more women to represent it in parliamentary elections than any other constituency in the history of independent India. But it is not a place of exceptional progress. Instead, the impressive number of women in politics is due to an ugly trend in the nation, in which men endorse their wives, relatives, or employees for leadership positions reserved for women under India's quota system and then use them as political puppets.

Huts of horror
WMPW recently wrote about a woman who died while adhering to the Nepalese ritual of Chaupadi, which banishes women to secluded outdoor huts while they menstruate. Another woman, this time a 15-year-old, has died under similar circumstances despite Prime Minister Pushpa Kamal Dahal's call for the end of the custom last month.
Washington Post


12 feminist kids’ books for dismantling the patriarchy
New York Magazine

Pantsuit Nation—the Facebook group supporting Hillary Clinton—has landed a book deal
New York Times

Women of La Patrona get fast food to migrants on Mexico’s 'Beast' train

Vienna police will be handing out pocket alarms to women on New Year’s Eve
New York Magazine

Cindy Crawford knows she’s 50, thanks


"I’m really proud to wear this color every single day of my life."
--Serena Williams, in a conversation on race and gender