The World’s Most Powerful Women: February 9

February 9, 2017, 8:01 AM UTC

Naomi Watanabe was named Japan’s “Most Valued Instagrammer” last year. One post that earned the 29-year-old the title was a photo of her in a swimming pool wearing a pink bathing suit with bagels on the breasts. She shared it with her 6 million followers and received 620,000 likes.

Watanabe, a comedian, is a regular on television shows and magazine covers. She has her own fashion line, and last year a Japanese railway company named a train after her, according to a profile in the Washington Post. At 220 pounds, Watanabe is double the weight of the average Japanese woman her age, making her stand out in the country’s super-skinny culture. But her weight alone has not propelled her career; the way she embraces it has played a big part.

The U.S. has its own body-positivity stars. Just yesterday, plus-size model Ashley Graham landed on the cover of Vogue alongside six other women as part of its diversity issue. Lady Gaga, meanwhile, responded to body shamers who criticized her Super Bowl look by saying, “I’m proud of my body and you should be proud of yours too.”

But the term takes on a whole new meaning in Japan, where the government has mandated waist sizes for company employees over 40—33.5 inches for men and 35.4 inches for women. Those who don’t comply must attend nutrition and exercise lessons. Against that backdrop, Watanabe’s booming career is that much more impressive.

“Japan is not like the U.S. You don’t see many plus-sized women,” she said. “But rather than trying to change other people’s minds, I would like to help change the minds of bigger women, to help them feel good about themselves.”



On their trailThere are thousands of Boko Haram hunters in the northeastern region of Nigeria, but Aisha Bakari Gombi is one of the few women who track the militants. The 38-year-old, who used to hunt antelope and baboons, leads a command of men who communicate using sign language, animal sounds, and even birdsong. The team has reportedly rescued hundreds of men, women, and children. “Boko Haram know me and fear me,” she says.Guardian


Losing momentum
The rate at which women are being promoted to the boards of Britain's largest companies slowed for the first time last year. They made up 29% of hires, down from 32.1% in 2014 and 31.6% in 2012, according to biennial data from headhunter Egon Zehnder. That leaves the U.K. behind western Europe where women constituted 35.4% of board hires, and France, where 57% were female. The downward trend in Britain is fueling concerns that the momentum to get more women into senior business roles is waning.
Financial Times


Defensive dad
President Donald Trump on Wednesday tweeted that Nordstrom had treated his daughter Ivanka "unfairly" by dropping her fashion line. Nordstrom said on Thursday that it would no longer sell the line because it had performed poorly. Trump's post underscores the entangled relationship between the president's political power and his family's vast business assets.

Fueling a firebrand
The U.S. Senate cut off Sen. Elizabeth Warren Tuesday night as she read a 1986 letter from Coretta Scott King as part of her opposition to AG nominee Jeff Sessions. Majority Leader Mitch McConnell admonished Warren by saying, "She was warned. She was given an explanation. Nevertheless, she persisted." The phrase immediately became a feminist rallying cry. The whole saga positions Warren well for a potential 2020 run; the lingering question is whether she wants in.

A Carly comeback?
Former HP CEO and 2016 presidential hopeful Carly Fiorina is not ruling out another political run. She told a radio show in Virginia this week that she's considering a run for the Senate in 2018. If that happens, she would challenge Sen. Tim Kaine of Virginia—Hillary Clinton's running mate—in the Democrat's reelection bid. "Look, I'm certainly looking at that opportunity," she said. 


Not enough
President Xi Jinping's administration passed legislation designed to address China's widespread domestic violence problem—1 in 4 married women is beaten—but it's not going as planned. A promise to issue restraining orders against perpetrators is not being implemented properly, according to a Washington Post investigation. Plus, the impact of anti-domestic violence measures is diminished by a one-party system in which courts are weak, women are underrepresented, and traditional gender roles are the norm.
Washington Post

Favorite sons
The University of Sydney is under fire for a new scholarship that gives preference to male applicants. The scholarship, worth $6,750 annually, is for students enrolled in the postgraduate doctor of veterinary medicine degree and will favor "male applicants who are from rural and regional areas with an interest in large animal practice." The school said the preference for men was requested by the donor and addresses the current under-representation of males in the student cohort.

Replacing a legend
India's southern state of Tamil Nadu is getting another female chief minister two months after the death of the iconic politician J Jayalalitha. Sasikala Natarajan, who was a close confidant of Jayalalitha, will take on the role. A spokesman for the ruling AIADMK party said, "We wanted a strong woman leader to serve the people."


The Afghan girls with silver swords

The films about women I'm watching in 2017
Refinery 29

Adele is the highest paid Grammy nominee
Teen Vogue

I was the queen of French fashion. Then came the guillotine.
New York Magazine

How Nicole Kidman puts women first in Hollywood
New York Times


"'She was warned. She was given an explanation. Nevertheless, she persisted.' So must we all."
--Hillary Clinton, repeating the rallying cry sparked by Warren's admonishment in the Senate.'