Skip to Content

The World’s Most Powerful Women: April 3

London’s Parliament Square sits in the shadow of Big Ben, the House of Commons, Westminster Abbey, and the Supreme Court. It is one of the city’s top tourist destinations, a stage for protests, and home to 11 statues of British icons and world leaders—all of whom are men.

But a woman will soon join the ranks of Winston Churchill, Abraham Lincoln, and Nelson Mandela, Prime Minister Theresa May announced yesterday. Millicent Garrett Fawcett, who fought for women’s right to vote, will be honored with a statue in the square. Last year a petition with some 70,000 signatures—including those of author J.K. Rowling and actress Emma Watson—asked London Mayor Sadiq Khan to erect a statue of a suffragette.

Fawcett formed the National Union of Women’s Suffrage Societies in 1897. She died at age 82 in 1929—the year after British women won the right to vote. Fawcett “continues to inspire the battle against the injustices of today,” May said yesterday. “It is right and proper that she is honored in Parliament Square alongside former leaders who changed our country.”

Fawcett is the inspiration behind a women’s rights charity, the Fawcett Society. Its chief executive, Sam Smethers, said Fawcett “has been overlooked and unrecognized until now.”

“By honoring her, we also honor the wider suffrage movement,” she said.

As I mentioned on Friday, Oxford University recently launched a campaign to add women’s portraits to its halls and earlier this year Yale renamed a residential college after computer science pioneer Grace Murray Hopper. The construction of Fawcett’s statue continues the long-overdue trend of commemorating women’s historical legacies in spaces once reserved mainly for men.

@clairezillman

EUROPE/MIDDLE EAST/AFRICA

Day oneEmma Walmsley today takes the reins at British drugmaker GlaxoSmithKline, becoming the first female CEO of a major pharmaceutical company and one of the most powerful women in British business. The Financial Times has a run-down of the four major challenges she faces as CEO: strengthening revenues in regions outside the U.S., revitalizing research and development, proving to investors she has the skills to run one of the world’s biggest pharma companies, and ensuring her company’s interests are protected in the Brexit negotiations.Financial Times

.

The Oprah of Africa
CNN has a profile of Mosunmola “Mo” Abudu, whom Forbes named Africa’s most successful woman. Abudu once worked in HR for oil giant Exxon Mobil, but then—and with no television experience—started her own talk show called Moments with Mo that went on to become Africa’s most syndicated. She later launched EbonyLife TV, a network aimed at showing Africa from a different perspective, one that represents the continent’s young and increasing middle class urbanites. “[T]he world,” she says, “must understand who we are as Africans. Especially this generation.”
CNN
.

Cycling in solidarity
In cities around Pakistan on Sunday, women participated in women-only bike races—an event aimed at challenging male dominance in public spaces. “Our strategy is simply to be visible in public spaces,” said Meher Bano of Girls at Dhabas, the feminist group that organized the races after a woman from Lahore was pushed from her bicycle by a group of men last year after not responding to catcalls. Of the 200 million people in Pakistan, more than 60% are under age 30 but young women in the Muslim country still face barriers to employment and are often made to feel uncomfortable in male-dominated public areas. “It’s part of a much greater narrative that leads to harassment, it leads to violence,” Bano said.
Reuters

 

THE AMERICAS

A series of settlements
Last summer, Fox News dismissed former chairman and CEO Roger Ailes after ex-host Gretchen Carlson filed sexual harassment claims against him, stating that it does not tolerate behavior that “disrespects women or contributes to an uncomfortable work environment.” But since Ailes’ termination, Fox has brokered settlements with two women who’ve leveled harassment claims against star host Bill O’Reilly, who remains on air. O’Reilly, who denies the claims, told the New York Times in a statement that he’s “vulnerable to lawsuits from individuals who want me to pay them to avoid negative publicity.” Fox wouldn’t comment on whether O’Reilly has been disciplined in any way. It said the host is “committed to supporting our efforts to improve the environment for all our employees.”
New York Times
.

Listening to Luisa
Last week, Venezuelan Attorney General Luisa Ortega, typically an ally of President Nicolas Maduro, criticized the Supreme Court’s ruling to take over the National Assembly’s legislative powers, which essentially dissolved the lawmaking body. “It constitutes a rupture of the constitutional order,” she said. The ruling was considered a win for Maduro, who’s repeatedly clashed with the legislature. But anti-government protests erupted after the decision, and Maduro’s administration urged the court to review it “to maintain institutional stability.” The judges ended up reversing the ruling on Saturday.
BBC
.

When justice isn’t served
A judge in Mexico last week acquitted a man accused of sexually assaulting a 17-year-old girl, deeming his touching of her “incidental rubbing” that was committed without “lascivious intent.” The ruling has rippled across Mexico, where such an outcome is all too familiar. Faith in the justice system is so low that more than 80% of sexual assaults go unreported, and barely 4.5% of criminals face sentencing. A majority of victims say they don’t report attacks because they see it as a waste of time. 
Washington Post

 

ASIA-PACIFIC

Cared for, not criminalized
In India, people who attempt suicide can be fined and held for up to a year in prison. But a new bill seeks to decriminalize the act as part of a package of mental-health reforms. It declares access to psychiatric care to be a right for all Indians, and promises a huge boost in funding to help provide it. The legislation could be an especially big help to Indian women ages 15-29 whose suicide rate is more than double that of any other country except Suriname (which has a large Indian population) and Nepal (which shares many cultural similarities). 
Economist
.

Where women truly rule
In the far eastern foothills of the Himalayas, there exists a tribal community of Tibetan Buddhists called the Mosuo. Their society has no fathers, no marriage, and no nuclear families. It’s a progressive feminist world where women are treated as equal, if not superior, to men. A corporate lawyer from Singapore named Choo Waihong set out to explore the series of Mosuo villages and talked to The Guardian about what she learned. “I’ve been a feminist all my life, and the Mosuo seemed to place the female at the centre of their society,” she says. “It was inspiring.”
Guardian

IN BRIEF

When nuns tried to kick-start India’s first transgender school
Atlantic

Relax, millennial men don’t actually want to keep women in the kitchen
Fortune

The 1920s women who fought for the right to travel under their own names
Atlas Obscura

Lizzie Armitstead is the latest rider to accuse British Cycling of sexism
Guardian

Melinda Gates says Donald Trump’s budget proposal poses dangers to women overseas
Fortune

Jill Abramson is a pushy broad
Lenny Letter

PARTING WORDS

“The easy times of postfeminism are over.”
--Alice Schwarzer, German author and feminist, on activism in the age of Trump.