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The World’s Most Powerful Women: March 17

If attendance at political training sessions is any indication, there’s no doubt women are still feeding off the momentum of the January 21 Women’s March that took place in Washington, D.C., and some 600 other cities worldwide.

And for a time, office supply sales—of all things—got a similar jolt.

The homemade signs and banners that the millions of protesters carried to the January 21 events required a ton of materials, and sales figures prove it. In the week before the march, sales of poster boards in the U.S. were up 33% and foam board sales increased 42%, according to an analyst note by Leen Nsouli of The NPD Group, a market research company. Of the 6.5 million poster boards sold in January, nearly one-third were purchased during the week of the Women’s March.

Sales of easel pads and flip chart grew too by 28%, as did sales of paint markers (35%), specialty markers (24%), permanent markers (12%), glue (27%), adhesives (12%), scissors (6%), and paper punches (4%). Some women wore their messages. As a result, fabric paint sales the week before the march were up at least three times as much compared to the other weeks in January.

The sales bumps may seem incremental and trivial, but I think they illustrate a surprising side of women’s collective purchasing power at a time when many consumers are letting their wallets do the talking.

 

@clairezillman

 

EUROPE/MIDDLE EAST/AFRICA

Taming transatlantic tiesGerman Chancellor Angela Merkel and U.S. President Donald Trump will meet for the first time today in Washington, where they are expected to discuss transatlantic trade, NATO policy, climate change, and more. Merkel, who plans to present the president with a short lesson on U.S.-EU trade, will be joined by German industry leaders hoping to dissuade the administration from introducing a tax hike on German cars. While a Trump aide dismissed Merkel as “a typical woman,” analysts remain hopeful that the two leaders will find common ground to steady transatlantic relations.Fortune

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Taking her time
U.K. PM Theresa May is pushing back against Scottish FM Nicola Sturgeon’s request to hold a second Scottish independence referendum. “We should be working together, not pulling apart,” May said. “Now is not the time.” Sturgeon wants the vote to happen before or shortly after Brexit. May didn’t provide any details on timing, but her Conservative colleagues indicate they are ruling out a Scottish referendum until long after Britain’s EU split.
Financial Times
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Sign of the times
U.K. MP Dawn Butler of the Labour party is receiving praise for using sign language in the House of Commons as she asked about giving British Sign Language legal status. BSL was recognized as a minority language by the government in 2003, but it currently does not have any legal protection. Butler is thought to be the first MP in Commons’ history to sign a question. 
BBC
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So retro, Roger
Another MP is in the news for a not-so-great reason. Roger Gale was accused of sexism yesterday when he referred to his female employees as “girls” during a radio interview. Even worse, he made the comments while defending his hiring of family members—including his wife—to serve on his staff. Gale’s wife later issued an odd defense of her husband, telling the Telegraph that the “girls” like being called that. Plus, she says, Gale treats them to “buns on a regular basis,” and that (somehow?) makes it all okay.
Telegraph

 

 

 

THE AMERICAS

The picture of persistence
Former first daughter Chelsea Clinton is writing a new children’s picture book titled She Persisted—a reference to Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell’s defense after the Senate silenced Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.). The book will tell the stories of 13 women, including Harriet Tubman, Helen Keller, Oprah Winfrey, and Sonia Sotomayor, who overcame obstacles to achieve personal and professional success. “I wrote this book for everyone who’s ever wanted to speak up but has been told to quiet down, for everyone who’s ever been made to feel less than,” Clinton says.
Entertainment Weekly
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To the letter
The Republicans’ health care proposal puts federal funding for Planned Parenthood on the chopping block, and 74 tech leaders are now coming to the organization’s defense. “There is no doubt that current congressional efforts to cut off access to this essential health care provider would hurt women, their families, and the businesses they lead, work for, and support,” says a letter signed by executives from companies like Tumblr, Slack, Foursquare, and Eventbrite that was addressed to top Republican and Democratic leaders. Those who signed the letter say Planned Parenthood’s mission resembles what they stand for: creating opportunity for everyone to chart their own path in life and pursue their own ingenuity—without barriers or fear.
Fortune
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Student and teacher
Indrani Das, 17, won the U.S.’s oldest and most prestigious math and science competition, the Regeneron Science Talent Search, with a potential treatment for brain damage. Das’s research focuses on repairing the condition surrounding the death of neurons, which is the hallmark of diseases like Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s. The high school senior is still deciding where to attend college, but she’s already mentoring younger students. “The whole purpose of science is to reach out to other people,” she says, “That’s why it’s the perfect subject to teach.” 
Wall Street Journal

 

 

ASIA-PACIFIC

India’s boys’ club
A sexual harassment scandal at a top entertainment startup in India is underscoring the industry’s bro culture. This week, a former employee of digital media giant The Viral Fever accused its co-founder, Arunabh Kumar, of persistent “abuse and molestation.” TVF denied the accusations, but two other women have since taken to Facebook to recount similar experiences with Kumar. The claims point to the challenges women face in the male-dominated industry where less than 9% of founders are female and where companies lack even the most basic structures to deal with workplace sexism.
Quartz
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Pressure in the Philippines
Australian Foreign Minister Julie Bishop is facing calls to talk tough with Rodrigo Duterte about human rights when she meets with Philippines president today. Her visit comes the day after an impeachment complaint was filed against Duterte for his violent war on drugs, and as the country considers reinstating the death penalty. Earlier, Bishop said she’d “emphasize the importance of upholding human rights and the rule of law” during the meeting. Human Rights Watch Australia director Elaine Pearson argues that Bishop must put more muscle behind that rhetoric, especially if Australia is serious about wanting a seat on the UN Human Rights Council.
Australian

IN BRIEF

The stories of the first men (and the first woman) to fly in India
Quartz

This White House staffer got a tampon dispenser installed in the West Wing
Motto

Pakistan’s top-ranked female squash player trained by dressing as a boy
BBC

Women are getting breastfeeding tattoos to celebrate the act of nursing
People

Former Marine blames the nude-photo scandal on women’s integration in the military
Daily Beast

PARTING WORDS

“Whatever happens, we are not stopping.”
--Sylvana Simons, the VJ-turned-MP candidate who started her own political party to speak out against the xenophobic rhetoric of the Dutch far right. She lost in Wednesday's election but vowed to run again.