The World’s Most Powerful Women: January 9

January 9, 2017, 7:54 AM UTC

First Lady Michelle Obama has spent eight years carefully crafting her public comments to ensure she doesn’t rock the boat too much. But on the afternoon of January 20 she will be unleashed from the constraints of her office and have the freedom to talk candidly. Whether she will embrace that opportunity or not is unclear. The best way to preserve her widespread popularity—especially among Democrats—may be to hold back, but the New York Times’ Jodi Kantor writes that “the world has only one observant, original, wildly popular African-American first lady, and for her to hoard her ideas and views would be a waste.”

On Friday, Obama gave her final public address:

“So that’s my final message to young people as First Lady. It is simple. I want our young people to know that they matter, that they belong. So don’t be afraid—you hear me, young people? Don’t be afraid. Be focused. Be determined. Be hopeful. Be empowered. Empower yourselves with a good education, then get out there and use that education to build a country worthy of your boundless promise.”

The address was emotional—Obama became glossy-eyed as she wrapped up—but it was still relatively safe and didn’t display the scorching criticism she is reportedly capable of in private.

“Being in the White House has given her eight years’ worth of insights she has barely shared,” Kantor writes. Many are now hoping she finally opens up.


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MelaniamaniaSlovenia continues to be gripped by Melaniamania following Donald Trump's victory, which will soon thrust the nation's daughter Melania Trump into the White House. The increased celebrity of the soon-to-be first lady may have contributed to a boost in tourism in the small European nation. The number of American visitors rose by 11% to 80,000 between January and October last year compared to the same period in 2015, according to the Slovenian Tourism Board.AFP


Accidental whistle-blower
Time has an in-depth look at Clare Rewcastle Brown, a London-based reporter, who uncovered the massive corruption scheme involving a state fund in Malaysia called 1MDB. The controversy is the biggest corruption scandal in recent memory to involve a head of government—Prime Minister Najib Razak is a central figure—in terms of both the sum of money involved and the magnitude of the sensational news story it has become.

Taking on TB
Stanford University graduate student Mireille Kamariza, along with her adviser, recently unveiled a potential breakthrough in fighting tuberculosis: a way to detect the culprit bacteria faster and more accurately. Kamariza's upbringing in Burundi means she has a special connection to the disease—many there are stricken with TB—and that she's plowed an unlikely path to the upper echelons of science. Growing up she thought, "science was something that Europeans and Americans did. It was for other people—not for me."


Ivanka's inner circle
Ivanka Trump is reportedly turning to Goldman Sachs partner Dina Powell as a trusted advisor. Powell offers Trump a different perspective from that of the circle of billionaires who currently surround her father. She immigrated from Egypt to Texas, and at 29, she became the youngest person ever to direct the presidential personnel office under President George W. Bush. White House political advisor Karl Rove described her at the time as "very competent, an eloquent and confident speaker, and a vibrant personality who has the ability to get the job done."

Big boxed out
Sam's Club CEO Rosalind Brewer is leaving the company after leading it for five years and implementing initiatives aimed at trying to catch up to formidable rival Costco Wholesale. No. 19 on Fortune's Most Power Women list, she was one of the few top African-American executives in retail. Brewer is leaving the $57 billion company because "she wants a new challenge," said Doug McMillon, CEO of parent company Wal-Mart Stores.

Golden girl
Last night, Tracee Ellis Ross became the first black woman to win the Golden Globe for best television actress in a comedy or musical since Debbie Allen did so in 1983. In accepting the award, Ross dedicated it to "all the women, women of color, and colorful people whose stories, ideas and thoughts are not always considered worthy, important, and valid."
L.A. Times

The world's fastest woman
Denise Mueller, a 43-year-old mother of three, has ridden a bicycle faster than any woman ever has. She regularly reaches 140 miles per hour. Last summer, she joined two other Americans—Shea Holbrook and John Howard—in trying to top a staggering human-powered mark: 167 miles an hour on a bike.
Wall Street Journal


Hiring help
Women from the Philippines are learning Japanese customs and culture in order to land jobs as housecleaners in Japan. Training programs in the Philippines have sprouted up as Japan has begun admitting cleaners from overseas to make housecleaning services more affordable to its citizens. The hope is that if Japanese women are freed up from domestic duties, they will be more likely to pursue full-time jobs and give a much-needed boost to the nation's labor force. 

There's an app for that
The Pakistani province of Punjab has launched an app that enables women to report incidents of harassment to police with the tap of a smartphone. It lets users mark unsafe locations and access a helpline with information about laws that protect women's rights. Those resources are needed in the province, which accounted for 74% of all crimes against women in Pakistan, according to a 2013 study.

Blame game
The reporting of crimes against women in India, including rape, has risen in recent years, but women are still hesitant to come forward because they fear they will be blamed for what happened. That's what occurred following reports of mass molestation in Bangalore on New Year's Eve, when the home minister of Bangalore’s state of Karnataka, said a “large number of youngsters” had gathered in the city center and their dress had copied "westerners." As a result, "some disturbance, some girls are harassed, these kind of things do happen,” he said.
Wall Street Journal


Free from Boko Haram, Nigeria's Chibok girls are kept silent
Associated Press

These photos show how women of different cultures react to receiving a compliment

Photos: In Nepal, a monthly exile for women
New York Times

Vivienne Westwood’s return boosts London Fashion Week Men’s
Financial Times

A French woman turned her address book of Paris’s best insider spots into a multimillion-dollar startup

Chicago political gurus team up to help more women run for office
Chicago Tribune

NASA's Jeanette Epps is the first African-American astronaut to board the International Space Station
Huffington Post


"As my friend, the dear departed Princess Leia, said to me once, take your broken heart, make it into art."
--Actress Meryl Streep, accepting a lifetime achievement at Sunday's Golden Globes and urging Hollywood to employ empathy during Donald Trump's presidency.