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The World’s Most Powerful Women: March 1

The Japan Business Federation, known as ‘Keidanren,’ has an answer to the headlines about women being underrepresented in the nation’s business sector: its first-ever all-female delegation that’s currently making the rounds in New York and the U.S. capital.

The group is led by BT Japan president Haruno Yoshida, and its mission is to make the business case for getting more women into the workforce. That objective echoes the years-long ‘Womenomics’ push by Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, which aims to jump-start Japan’s economy by adding more women to it. (Women’s labor force participation rate in Japan—66.7%, according to the OECD—is nearly equal to the U.S.’s—66.9%—but women in Japan often work so-called irregular jobs that are part-time.)

During the delegation’s stint in the U.S., it’s meeting with corporate execs from Blackrock and Honeywell, members of Congress, and IMF managing director Christine Lagarde. But the group’s most notable stop was the White House, where the businesswomen talked with President Donald Trump’s economic advisor Dina Powell. (The White House did not return requests for comment on the meeting.)

Yoshida says the discussion with Powell went beyond how a diverse workforce benefits a business; it touched on how getting women into the workplace is a business opportunity unto itself. If women are working, they need more services like child care and transportation; they need tools to maximize the hours in every day. “Change is always a business opportunity,” she says. And while Yoshida is under no impression that the U.S. has mastered workplace gender equality—”it is not picture perfect,” she says—she does hope Japan can adopt more aspects of the U.S.’s approach to work-life balance, such as using technology to work remotely. Japan’s “long working hours habit has to be fixed,” she says.

The delegation asked for the meeting with Powell because it sees women’s economic empowerment as a priority of the Trump administration. Indeed last month, President Trump, First Daughter Ivanka Trump, and Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau hosted a roundtable conversation about how the U.S. and Canada can work jointly to push the issue. If Japan and the U.S. take on the “gender discussion” together, Yoshida says, it will only strengthen their economic ties.

When asked about the all-female make-up of the delegation, Yoshida dismissed any notion that it was a veiled message to Trump, who’s repeatedly run afoul of gender equality advocates. It was only fitting that Japan send businesswomen to talk about women’s economic issues, she says, and in meetings with U.S. government officials no one questioned the legitimacy of the topic.

@clairezillman

EUROPE/MIDDLE EAST/AFRICA

Still stigmatizedLiberian nurse Salome Karwah, who represented the Ebola fighters on Time‘s Person of the Year cover in 2014, was herself struck by the disease but survived. The bout left her immune to Ebola so she went on to treat many of its other victims with a hands-on touch. Karwah died last month after giving birth by C-section. She was discharged from the hospital but returned after lapsing into convulsions hours later. No one at the hospital would touch her for fear of contracting Ebola. The heartbreaking episode, writes Time‘s Aryn Baker, illustrates the lingering social stigma faced by many of Ebola’s survivors.Time

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Leaving me no choice
Ever since the Brexit vote in June, Scotland FM Nicola Sturgeon says she has been exploring options for how to uphold her constituents’ “cast iron” mandate to remain in the EU. But the inflexibility of Theresa May’s government is pushing her toward a second independence referendum. “Instead of meeting us halfway…the U.K. government’s approach has been ‘its way or no way.’ If an independence referendum does arise,” she says, it will not be because of Scotland’s bad faith, but instead due to “sheer intransigence on the part of the U.K. government.”
Independent

THE AMERICAS

Trump’s change of tune?
At his address to Congress last night, Trump urged lawmakers to pass legislation “to help ensure new parents that they have paid family leave.” The plan for six weeks of paid leave that Trump introduced on the campaign trail was panned for only applying to new moms, so his reference to “new parents” last night could signal the White House’s shift to a more inclusive policy.
Vox
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Delicate diplomacy
Rachel Notley, the prime minister of Alberta, Canada, is in the midst of a three-day visit to Washington, D.C., where she’s meeting with governors and congressional leaders who could influence Trump’s agenda on trade, energy, and pipelines. Those issues are vital to her province as it digs itself out of a multi-year recession. Protectionist rhetoric from the U.S.—not to mention the potential 20% border adjustment tax on imports like crude oil—could jeopardize Alberta’s fragile recovery.
Globe and Mail
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All things equal
Chipmaker Intel said yesterday that it’s reached 100% pay equality for both women and underrepresented minorities. The feat was a “year-end goal,” said chief diversity and inclusion officer Danielle Brown. She said Intel had also attained promotion parity for both groups. Last year, Intel’s diversity report received mixed marks, with some praising the company for its progress and for setting the bar for other tech companies. Others, meanwhile, felt Intel’s diversity push was not enough.
Fortune

ASIA-PACIFIC

Picking favorites
The Chinese government in Beijing has influenced Hong Kong elections in the past, but its input seems to have deepened recently as officials exert widespread pressure on those voting in the upcoming chief executive contest. Some of the 1,200 electors say they are receiving shadowy phone calls from sources in Beijing encouraging them to support candidate Carrie Lam in the vote this month instead of rival Regina Ip. Ip had appeared to be Beijing’s favorite until she was opposed by Lam, who led a government response to Hong Kong’s 2014 pro-democracy rallies.
Wall Street Journal
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Charging up
South Korea’s special prosecutor’s office said yesterday it will charge Samsung Group chief Jay Y. Lee and four other executives with bribery and embezzlement amid the corruption scandal involving President Park Geun-hye that’s rocked the country. The five executives will be charged with bribery, embezzlement, and hiding assets overseas. Lee will also be charged with committing perjury before parliament. The news is a blow to the technology company and South Korea’s overall economy since Samsung is considered its standard bearer.
Fortune

 

IN BRIEF

Why Democratic women wore white to Donald Trump’s congressional speech
Fortune

China is considering financial rewards to encourage couples to have a second child
Bloomberg

At 70, Sally Field gets her dream role in ‘The Glass Menagerie’
Vulture

Egg freezing for millennials: the latest start-up trend
New York Magazine

Tibetan women’s soccer players denied U.S. visas for tournament
Guardian

‘Hidden Figures’ inspiration Katherine Johnson is now part of a Lego set
Fortune

Michelle and Barack Obama land a book deal worth at least $60 million
Business Insider

 

PARTING WORDS

“You have this fluid shift. Your head looks bigger, your legs look skinnier, your chest looks bigger. It’s pretty spectacular.”
--Astronaut Sunita Williams on what it's like to travel in space and how she prepares.