The World’s Most Powerful Women: March 23

March 23, 2017, 8:15 AM UTC

London, where I live, was rocked by a suspected terrorist attack near Parliament yesterday. As of this morning, at least five people are dead and some 40 others are injured.

“The terrorists chose to strike at the heart of our capital city where all nationalities, religions and cultures come together to celebrate the values of liberty, democracy and freedom of speech,” said U.K. Prime Minister Theresa May. Attempts to defeat those values with violence, she said, are “doomed to failure.”

The attack took place exactly one year after the terrorist bombings in Brussels, where blasts at the Zaventem Airport and on the city’s metro killed 32 people and injured more than 300.

To mark the anniversary, CNN visited Nidhi Chaphekar, a flight attendant and mother whose bloodied, dazed image became the face of the attack in Belgium. She exemplifies how strength and resilience can emerge from chaos and destruction. I thought her story of survival would be fitting to share today.

Chaphekar witnessed the first blast in the Brussels airport as she prepared for a routine flight to Newark, N.J. She had flown in from her home city of Mumbai the previous day. As she tried to orient herself, a second bomb went off. “I landed on my legs and then I collapsed … that’s how I got a full cut behind my head,” she told CNN.

A soldier running to the scene helped Chaphekar to a plastic chair, where Georgian journalist Ketevan Kardava captured her in the blast’s immediate aftermath—her yellow uniform torn open exposing her bra and stomach, with dust and blood covering her face. The photograph landed on newspapers and news sites worldwide as journalists reported the attack.

When Chaphekar first saw the photo, she was struck by how defenseless she appeared. “As an air hostess, we being first aiders for others, I was feeling helpless at that moment,” she says. “It was a very awful scenario to accept.”

A year later, she is still recovering from her injuries—burns, a fractured foot, and metal embedded all over her body. She preaches a message of peace—”Our survival depends on each others’ survival”—and says she is taking the obstacles one at a time. More than anything, she wants to return to her job as a flight attendant. “It’s my passion,” she says. “[If] I’m medically fit, I would want to fly.”



A decision delayedThe Scottish Parliament suspended a decisive vote over whether to hold a second independence referendum in light of the terrorist attack outside Westminster. The vote would have allowed First Minister Nicola Sturgeon to begin preparations for another independence vote, likely to be held between fall 2018 and spring 2019. Prior to the suspension, MPs argued whether the referendum should wait until after a trade deal is struck between the U.K. and EU.The Telegraph


Standing up to Erdogan
Turkish politician and former interior minister Meral Aksener is galvanizing a grassroots movement that dares to defy President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s demands for expanded presidential powers. Askener, 60, has been described as the only person who could rival Erdogan, and has recently emerged as a “nationalist wild card” that could cost the president victory in the country’s referendum vote next month. She is using social media to connect with voters while the president maintains an “iron grip” on traditional media outlets.
Financial Times

Back from the brink
Marie Louise Baricako, a 64-year-old Burundian activist, is working to protect women’s lives in a nation whose bloodshed is nearing genocide. Almost 400,000 Burundians have left the country since 2015, and incidents of torture and sexual violence are on the rise. Baricako’s advocacy group trains women in conflict resolution and gender issues, aiming to give women a seat at the table when it comes to guiding the nation’s future. “You cannot have peace if you don’t listen to women,” she says.
New York Times



Waiting for 2059
Florida is on track to become the first state to close the gender pay gap—in 2038, according to new projections from the Institute for Women’s Policy Research. North Dakota, Utah, Louisiana, and Wyoming won’t reach that milestone until the next century. Based on the current rate of change, it will take the U.S. as a whole until 2059 to close the gap nationwide.

Cleveland projects confidence
Loretta Mester, president of the Federal Reserve Bank of Cleveland, said she expects the U.S. economy to expand by “somewhat above” 2% over the next year and forecast more than three interest-rate hikes in 2017. At a Tuesday event in Richmond, Virginia, she said the predicted hikes would leave the Fed in “good shape” and allow it to begin shrinking its $4.5 billion balance sheet.

Dropping the case
Four Denver women, victims of domestic assault, have declined to take their cases to court over fears of deportation. In light of the Trump administration’s aggressive plan to arrest and deport undocumented immigrants, the women did not want to risk being spotted by Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents in court. Denver City Attorney Kristin Bronson said she has asked ICE officials to stay away from court and instead pursue arrests of violent criminals elsewhere. "Without victims willing to testify we've had to dismiss those charges and the violent offenders have seen no consequences for their violent acts," she told NPR.



Rounding up Romeos
Yogi Adityanath, Hindu priest and new chief minister of Uttar Pradesh, India’s most populous state, has dispatched “anti-Romeo squads” to stop young men from harassing women in public spaces. A local news site reported over 900 men had been questioned over a 24-hour period and at least one had been punished with police-ordered situps. “The idea is to reclaim public spaces and make them safe for women," said the Uttar Pradesh police chief.
Washington Post

Trust v. the Taliban
After watching her home province in northern Pakistan become a Taliban stronghold, Professor Mossarat Qadeem decided to do something to help local women prevent their sons from being recruited by the group. Qadeem founded the Paiman Trust to teach women to identify early signs of radicalization, convening the group under the pretext of teaching them domestic skills. She estimates that the group has helped some 700 women and 1,270 youths in the region who are vulnerable to extremism.
News Deeply

News summaries by Linda Kinstler @lindakinstler


Sen. Elizabeth Warren wants to delay Neil Gorsuch's confirmation because of the FBI's Russia probe

Johns Hopkins accepts first black female neurosurgery resident
Huffington Post

Despite scandals, Uber says it's growing at a record rate

Her daughter was taught to think her Afro wasn’t ‘normal.’ So she created a billboard to change that.
Washington Post

How to rise above women who say you're not feminist enough
Harpers Bazaar

11 female art professors on their favorite female artists
New York Magazine


"As a woman in Hollywood, you just can’t win."
--Actress and writer Lena Dunham on being called a hypocrite for losing weight.