Skip to Content

The World’s Most Powerful Women: March 24

Fortune has launched its 2017 World’s Greatest Leaders list that ranks the politicians, sports figures, humanitarians, and business executives who are transforming the world and inspiring others to do the same. Nearly half of the 50 honorees are women, many of whom you’ll no doubt recognize. Philanthropist Melinda Gates is at No. 4, film director Ava DuVernay landed at No. 6, and Taiwan President Tsai Ing-Wen and German Chancellor Angela Merkel came it at Nos. 8 and 10, respectively.

My nominee for the list was Haruno Yoshida, president of BT Japan, who’s at No. 38.

I talked to Yoshida in February when she visited the White House as the leader of an all-female delegation representing the Keidanren, Japan’s powerful business federation. The group met with Dina Powell, President Donald Trump’s economic advisor, to discuss women’s economic advancement. After the meeting, Yoshida told me she hoped Japan could fix its “long working hours habit” by adopting some aspects of the American approach to work-life balance, like relying on technology to work remotely.

Yoshida was named the Keidanren’s first-ever female executive in 2015, a notable milestone for the federation and for Yoshida, now 52.

She scaled the corporate ladder by working abroad for foreign companies like Motorola that promote women more readily than their Japanese counterparts. Back in Japan, she’s now in the unique position of being a female executive in the nation’s male-dominated business culture. Her candor about the difficulties of raising her daughter as a single mom and the sacrifices she’s made to get ahead also stands out.

“I hid the fact that I had a daughter for a long time in my office,” she told the audience at Fortune’s Most Powerful Women Summit in Hong Kong last year. “In Japanese culture, you don’t want to miss important meetings because that’s [viewed as] a disadvantage. You don’t want to miss that dinner meeting because you have a daughter.”

Yoshida has used her Keidanren megaphone to champion Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s efforts to help more women enter Japan’s economy.

At the Fortune event, she acknowledged the strides Abe has made, but admitted the need for more work toward gender equality. She regards the next generation as a barometer of progress: “[I hope] my daughter can have a happy family and business life,” she said.

@clairezillman

EUROPE/MIDDLE EAST/AFRICA

Rudd pays respectsU.K. Home Secretary Amber Rudd attended a vigil in honor of police officer Keith Palmer, who was stabbed to death by the Westminster attacker on Wednesday. “He was courageous, he was brave, and he was doing his duty,” Rudd said. In an interview with the BBC, Rudd cautioned against blaming intelligence agencies for the attack; she said the assailant had spent time in jail and was “someone known to them but that he was on the periphery of the intelligence agencies.”The Guardian

.

Diamond anniversary dispute
Polish Prime Minister Beata Szydlo has said she will refuse to sign a symbolic declaration of European priorities at the EU’s 60th anniversary summit in Rome on Saturday unless her country’s demands are met. Poland wants the symbolic declaration to reflect the government’s position on issues like defense, trade, and competition. The summit is meant to be a display of European unity ahead of Brexit.
Bloomberg
.

Pill problems
A shortage of contraception in Egypt has led women to turn to the black market for birth control pills. Egypt has fixed the price of medicine since 1955, but the policy now means that drug companies can no longer afford to produce their products domestically. The country’s population is growing at 2.4% a year, faster than other developing nations, and the state lacks enough food and water to feed its growing citizenry.
The Economist

THE AMERICAS

Making moms work
An amendment to the GOP’s health care plan will allow states to rescind Medicaid coverage to unemployed mothers who do not find a job within 60 days of giving birth. If the amendment makes it into the final version of the legislation, it risks putting “women in the difficult position of finding work soon after delivery and needing to find childcare, or staying home and being uninsured,” as Alina Salganicoff of the Kaiser Family Foundation, told Fortune. A vote planned for yesterday was scrapped because there was not enough support for the bill. President Donald Trump has demanded a vote on it today.
Fortune
.

Mind the gap
The gender pay gap is widening in the United States’ top higher ed institutions, where men outnumber women two to one and occupy the vast majority of full professorships, according to new data from the Chronicle of Higher Education. A separate survey of U.S. museums found that much the same is true in the art world; in museums with budgets of $15 million or higher, only 30% of directors are women. “Female representation decreases as budget size increases,” the study found.
Fortune
.

Maternity care crisis
Hundreds of Venezuelan women are crossing the border into Colombia to deliver their children in functioning maternity wards. Desperate to avoid giving birth in their country’s deteriorating facilities where the infant-mortality rate is higher than Syria’s, they make the journey on foot along with thousands of others seeking medical help. The Venezuelan economic crisis has led to shortages of food and medicine, and many doctors have fled the country; Colombia’s public health system is straining to accommodate the influx of patients from its neighbor.
Wall Street Journal

 

ASIA-PACIFIC

Hong Kong’s hardliner
Career civil servant Carrie Lam is the favorite to become Hong Kong’s next chief executive. The city’s 1,194-person legislative committee will select a leader for the semi-autonomous territory on Sunday. Lam, who served as the No. 2 in the previous administration, has the backing of 600 committee delegates and has been described as “a hardliner who is not a good listener, especially when someone criticizes her.” Politicians say China has been lobbying in her favor behind the scenes.
Financial Times
.

What they call love
India’s “phone Romeos” are notorious for dialing wrong numbers at random in the hopes of hearing a woman’s voice and striking up a romantic relationship. In countries like India, Papua New Guinea, Bangladesh, and Morocco, cheap mobile technologies are coming into conflict with traditional gender boundaries. Reports of phone stalking have risen exponentially in India, but successful matches in the form of “wrong-number relationships” have also emerged.
New York Times
.

News summaries by Linda Kinstler @lindakinstler

IN BRIEF

Britain has the answer to defunding Planned Parenthood
Bloomberg

Startup WayUp wants to be the Netflix for jobs
Fortune

Marine Le Pen, no longer enemy of the euro
Politico

Americans agree on paid leave, but not on who should pay
New York Times

Ina Garten just announced a brand new cooking show
Fortune

New York City just made it so much easier to be a female entrepreneur
Fortune

PARTING WORDS

“I need to have my roots done so that I can do my job, so that I can sit in meetings and look professional. [It’s] no different than what these guys were doing going to Pebble Beach. So it went on my schedule. And people were shocked.”
--New York City Deputy Mayor Alicia Glen, in an interview about how women can help each other get ahead in the workplace.