The World’s Most Powerful Women: February 13

February 13, 2017, 7:26 AM UTC

On October 3 last year, Kersti Kaljulaid, a member of the European Court of Auditors, became Estonia’s first female president, as MPs voted her into the position by a 81-0 tally.

About a month later, the U.S. elected Donald Trump as president—an event that dramatically complicated Kaljulaid’s role overseeing a nation that Newt Gingrich, a prominent Trump supporter, once described as “a suburb of St. Petersburg.” There’s fear that Trump—who’s voiced admiration for Russian President Vladimir Putin and disdain for NATO—could use Estonia and other Baltic states as pawns in pursuit of a larger deal with Moscow.

But in a recent interview with the Financial Times, Kaljulaid, who assumed the presidential post as a compromise candidate, exuded fortitude even as U.S. tanks rolled into Estonia to—at least for now—reinforce NATO’s frontline against an increasingly aggressive Russia. “We don’t see ourselves as consumers of security, but we see ourselves as equal allies. It proves to me that there is no need for us to be afraid,” she told the FT.

But Kaljulaid has been quieter than some had hoped about the risks of the Trump-Putin bromance, perhaps because Trump—while possessing the potential to sell out Estonia—is also a current source of security, leading one observer to describe Kaljulaid as being between a rock and a hard place.

Kaljulaid says that so long as it doesn’t come at the expense of other nations, she would “relish” better ties between Russia and the U.S. But she also leveled a veiled warning to Trump: “Once you start doing deals, you never know where you will end.”



A royal opportunityQueen Elizabeth is in the market for a tweeter. Buckingham Palace has posted a job listing for a "digital communications officer" to run Her Majesty's Twitter account, which currently has 2.8 million followers. The Queen personally tweeted on her 90th birthday last year, but it appears she won't make a habit of it. The job pays £30,000 and offers a “comprehensive benefits package” as well as “personal development.”Hindustan Times


The face of a movement
Laura Codruţa Kovesi has increasingly become the face of Romania’s anti-corruption efforts that have been marked by massive protests this month. Demonstrators took to the streets to oppose an ordinance that decriminalizes some instances of official misconduct. The measure was repealed following the protests, but Kovesi, chief of Romania's national anti-corruption directorate, says threats to anti-corruption initiatives persist.

Don't bet against Angela
Recent polls have shown German Chancellor Angela Merkel trailing center-left Social Democratic candidate Martin Schulz, but political scientist Ian Bremmer says not to count Merkel out. "She remains popular, with one recent poll giving her a 74% approval rate—in part because Germans consider her a credible foil to the turmoil on all sides," he writes. That explanation points to her greatest advantage: Germany's desire for stability.


A Bey-utiful speech
Adele's 25 album won five honors at the Grammy awards last night, including Album of the Year, which she dedicated to Beyonce. "[M]y artist of my life is Beyoncé and this album to me, the Lemonade album, was just so monumental... and so well thought out and so beautiful and soul-baring and we all got to see another side to you that you don’t always let us see, and we appreciate that," she said. "And all us artists here adore you. You are our light!”
Entertainment Weekly

Slumping sales
Last week, President Donald Trump said his daughter Ivanka had been treated unfairly by Nordstrom, which dropped her line citing poor sales. There are now figures to back up the department store's rationale. Sales of Ivanka Trump’s fashion line plunged 32% at the store last fiscal year, with the declines deepening in the lead-up to the U.S. presidential election.
Wall Street Journal

Loosening the rules
Black women serving in the U.S. Army are cheering a new directive that lets female soldiers wear their hair in locks, an order that ends years of confusing—and some say discriminatory—rules. The previous guidelines forbid "twists," but soldiers say the meaning was up to interpretation, causing black women to feel as if they were “walking targets” and to endure "unnecessary stress."
New York Times


Growth opportunity
Melania Trump met with Japanese First Lady Akie Abe to express her commitment to continuing the White House garden tradition, which had been a favorite project of Trump's predecessor Michelle Obama. In Trump's first solo public appearance as first lady, she and Abe toured the Morikami Museum and Japanese Gardens in Florida. Trump later said she is dedicated to the "continuation of the White House Gardens, specifically the First Lady's Kitchen Garden and the Rose Garden."

Escaping the past
North Korean defector Hyeonseo Lee gained fame for her book The Girl With Seven Names and her 2013 TED Talk on escaping the secretive state. Now she wants to establish an NGO to stop the trafficking of desperate North Koreans into China as brides and sex workers. “As a woman who actually survived from there, I should be their voice," she says.
Financial Times

Out of character
Bangladesh PM Sheikh Hasina has championed women’s empowerment since taking office in 2009. But now she’s advocating for allowing child marriage in cases where underage girls become pregnant. Her rationale is that many western countries allow child marriage in special cases and that the proposed legislation is an effort to be culturally sensitive. Opponents say the bill would tell parents that child marriage is okay in the case of a pregnancy, or worse, force girls who have been raped to marry their rapists.


Women almost never direct big movies. ‘Fifty Shades’ shows why that matters.
Washington Post

Women who do this at work are more successful

The joys of women’s college gymnastics, the best show on American television

Meet the Muslim woman who’s become the face of anti-Trump resistance

This fashion startup wants designers to make clothes that fit all women


"If you ask me what accomplishment I’m most proud of, the answer would be all the young people I've trained over the years; that’s more important than writing the first compiler.”
--Computer scientist Grace Hopper, whose name will replace John C. Calhoun's on one of Yale's residence halls as the university tries to loosen its ties to supporters of slavery.