The World’s Most Powerful Women: April 18

April 18, 2017, 6:49 AM UTC

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan secured a narrow victory on Sunday in a national referendum that will let the winner of the 2019 presidential election—which Erdogan is expected to win—take full control of the government and end the nation’s parliamentary system.

Erdogan and his supporters say the new presidential system of government will give the country more stability, especially in the wake of last year’s failed coup and amid terrorism threats. But democracy and human rights advocates say it will concentrate even more power with Erdogan, who’s recently displayed increasingly dictatorial tendencies. Women in the latter camp are especially concerned.

As Erdogan shored up his conservative base ahead of Sunday’s vote, he repeatedly spoke out against women’s rights and gender equality, according to Newsweek.

Last year, Erdogan referred to women who “refuse maternity” as “half” persons. “She is lacking… no matter how successful she is in the business world,” he said.

At other times, he has advocated against birth control and flatly stated that men and women are not equal, given women’s “delicate nature.”

In 2016, Erdogan’s party tried to pass legislation that would pardon men who raped underage women if they married their victims, but the measure was pulled from consideration after sparking outrage. Sehnaz Kiymaz of Women for Women’s Human Rights – New Ways, an independent women’s NGO in Istanbul, told Newsweek ahead of Sunday’s referendum that a vote in favor of the constitutional changes “could mean negative legislation like this will get passed so much easier,” threatening Turkey’s reputation as an Islamic country that offers women vast freedoms. “It would mean the gains women have made would be taken away to ensure that women are seen as wives and mothers and within their traditional gender roles,” Kiymaz said.

Sunday’s vote was closer than expected—51.3% to 48.7%—and balloting irregularities have called the outcome into question, with some opponents demanding a recount. Politician Meral Aksener, one of the loudest Erdogan critics in a country where government opponents have been increasingly silenced, took issue with a decision to accept unstamped ballots after the vote tallying had begun. She vowed Sunday night to keep fighting that rule change.



The right to revokeU.K. Home Secretary Amber Rudd is being urged to revoke the British citizenship of Syrian First Lady Asma al-Assad. In a letter to Rudd demanding the move, the Liberal Democrats argued that “the first lady of Syria has acted not as a private citizen but as a spokesperson for the Syrian presidency,” referencing a recent social media post on Asma Assad’s account decrying U.S. airstrikes on her country. The home secretary can revoke the citizenship of dual nationals deemed to be a national security risk. Asma Assad was born in the U.K. and is thought to be a dual British-Syrian national.The Guardian


Investigator in exile
Ever since investigative reporter Elena Milashina and her colleague Irina Gordienko broke the horrific news that gay men were being detained, tortured, and killed in Chechnya, Milashina has feared for her life. After her report was published on April 1, she and the entire staff of Russia’s Novaya Gazeta paper became the target of a religiously-inspired retaliation campaign initiated by Islamic theologians in Chechnya. In an interview with the Washington Post, Milashina called for international pressure on Russia to investigate Chechen crimes, and explained that going into exile to protect her personal safety will not stop her from continuing her work.
Washington Post

Out of fashion
Vogue Arabia abruptly switched editors after just two issues with Saudi Princess Deena Aljuhani Abdulaziz at the helm. Abdulaziz led the publication with the mission of changing Western conceptions of Arab women: “Many people don’t really know exactly what Arabia is, and there are major misunderstandings around modest dressing, too,” she said last fall. “I have a responsibility to tackle those issues, through a fashion lens, of course.” She said her departure arose because she “refused to compromise when I felt the publisher’s approach conflicted with the values which underpin our readers.” Condé Nast veteran Manuel Arnaut will take her place.
New York Times


Don't ask
New York City may soon join Massachusetts and Philadelphia in banning employers from inquiring about the previous salaries of potential hires, a move meant to help close the gender pay gap. “Asking about a candidate’s salary history hurts women who may not have been paid enough in a previous job, as the biased figure follows them into their next job,” economist Evelyn Murphy told the Wall Street Journal. Similar measures, which are not without detractors, are up for consideration in a dozen local legislatures across the country.
Wall Street Journal

Victory lap
Fifty years after she made history as the first woman to officially run the Boston Marathon, Kathrine Switzer returned to compete once more. As she ran the 26.2 mile race yesterday, Switzer reflected on how far women have come since her 1967 debut, when an official tried to throw her out of the competition because she was a girl. Now, "more than 58% of all the runners in the United States are women," she says. "And Boston is a microcosm of this incredible social revolution. It's awesome."

Benefiting from the boys' club
Nikki Haley, U.S. ambassador to the UN, is using the Republican Party’s “male swagger and anti-woman policies” to her advantage. Her quick rise to prominence—propelled by memorable one-liners  in the UN Security Council—may one day move her to higher office. Gender stereotypes often give Republican women an advantage in electoral politics, where they are typecast as caring simply by being women. At the same time, they are insulated from accusations of being too soft because they’re part of the GOP. As South Carolina political veterans attest, Haley has been astutely using the boys’ club to her advantage since her days as the state's governor.
New York Times

Living by the Girl Scout Law
New York City’s Girl Scout Troop 6000 is the first troop for homeless girls. Its 20 members all live on 10 floors designated for homeless families in a hotel in Queens, where in February the troop called its first meeting. Of the 287 people the city has put up in the hotel, over half are under the age of 18; children make up 40% of people in the city’s shelter system. The troop is one of NYC’s many new programs to support homeless children. Girl Scouts of Greater New York is covering Troop 6000’s fees and expenses, and donations are being accepted.
New York Times



Doesn't measure up
The Indian government is investigating the makers of a school textbook that describes the ideal female shape as 36”-24”-36.” India’s union minister of human resource development, Prakash Javdekar, condemned the privately-published textbook as “sexist” and ordered schools immediately stop using it. Indian textbooks are frequent generators of controversy. In February, one book made headlines for teaching children how to suffocate kittens; in 2014, another claimed that Japan dropped a nuclear bomb on the U.S. during World War II.

See you in court
Former South Korean President Park Geun-hye was formally charged with bribery and abuse of power yesterday, setting the stage for a trial that could result in a lengthy prison term. Her indictment follows a corruption scandal involving her shadowy advisor Choi Soon-sil that prompted massive street protests and her ouster from office last month. Park denies all wrongdoing

Thriving under thirty
Powerful young women top the Forbes 2017 30 Under 30 Asia, which celebrates 300 pioneers across 10 industries in the region. FashionValet co-founder Vivy Yusof, Afghani rapper Paradise Sorouri, Indian wrestler Sakshi Malik, and Maldivian women’s rights activist Safaath Ahmed Zahir are among the honorees, each commended for championing gender equality and women’s empowerment in her home country.

News summaries by Linda Kinstler @lindakinstler


How a Vietnamese businesswoman became a billionaire with bikinis
Travel and Leisure

'Actions speak louder than words.' Ivanka Trump is walking a fine line on women's issues

Virginia finally gives female clerk with 27 years experience the same pay as man with less than 6
Huffington Post

USA Today Network's editor-in-chief on the unconscious bias facing women

Maureen Chiquet’s move from Chanel to self-empowerment
New York Times

Why are so many makeup companies treating women like children?
New York Magazine


"I didn't want to be dominated by anyone."
--Emma Morano, the world's oldest woman, who died in Italy this weekend at the age of 117. She credited her longevity in part to her decision to kick out an abusive husband in 1938.