The World’s Most Powerful Women: May 4

May 4, 2017, 9:39 AM UTC

Desiree Fairooz, an activist with the Code Pink: Women for Peace NGO, could go to jail for a year simply because she laughed during U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions’ confirmation hearing.

Fairooz is one of three activists convicted of charges related to their protest of Sessions’ confirmation. They could face up to 12 months in jail and $2,000 in fines for claims that they attempted to “impede and disrupt” the hearing; jurors convicted Fairooz of disorderly conduct and “parading or demonstrating on Capitol grounds.” The incriminating laugh occurred after Alabama Senator Richard Shelby said that Sessions’ “extensive record of treating all Americans equally under the law is clear and well-documented.”

“I just couldn’t hold it,” she told The New York Times on Wednesday. “It was spontaneous. It was an immediate rejection of what I considered an outright lie or pure ignorance.” While some jurors told HuffPost that it was not her laugh, but her behavior upon being removed from the courtroom that constituted disorderly conduct, Department of Justice prosecutors said the laugh alone was enough to merit a conviction.

The whole ordeal appears to be an all-too-real manifestation of a quote from author Margaret Atwood, who said: “Men are afraid women will laugh at them. Women are afraid men will kill them.” Unfortunately, Atwood’s 1985 novel The Handmaid’s Tale, now a Hulu series, has emerged as a cultural touchstone of the Trump presidency.

Hillary Clinton also referenced the novel during a speech at Planned Parenthood’s 100th anniversary gala Tuesday evening, saying, “We can never let them grind us down.” The Hulu series, she said, “has prompted important conversations about women’s rights and autonomy. In The Handmaid’s Tale, women’s rights are gradually, slowly stripped away. As one character says, ‘We didn’t look up from our phones until it was too late.’”

While Fairooz’s conviction is dispiriting news, she plans to file post-trial motions to fight the verdict and continue protesting the Trump administration.

So long as women’s advocates “keep fighting,” Clinton said, “it is not too late for us.”



Face-off in FranceFrench presidential candidates Marine Le Pen and Emmanuel Macron faced off during a primetime debate Wednesday night. Le Pen characterized Macron as the candidate of the “unbridled globalisation and the ‘uberisation’ of society,” while Macron called Le Pen “the high priestess of fear.” The two sparred over trade, homegrown jihadism, and the EU, with one post-debate poll showing that 63% of viewers believe Macron came out on top.Financial Times


Art of the electorate
British artist Cornelia Parker has been appointed the official artist of the U.K. general election on June 8, becoming the first woman to be awarded the honor. This election is the fifth to be recorded by an artist. Parker will spend the next few weeks attending campaign events and the artwork she produces will join the House of Commons' parliamentary art collection.

Balancing the history books
Heidi Evans launched her women-focused tour guide company, Women of Paris, to share the untold stories about the women who shaped the City of Light. "I was sick of talking about men," she told The Independent. "With these tours, I want to be part of helping visitors and Parisians get a more gender-balanced view of this brilliant city."
The Independent


Fight to be first
Stacey Abrams has led the U.S. State of Georgia’s Democratic minority in its House of Representatives for the past seven years. Now, she’s campaigning to be America’s first African American female governor. No African American has won statewide office in Georgia since 2006, but she’s not fazed by the campaign trail’s demographic challenges. “I am a bullish cheerleader in the reality that demography is a roadmap but not a treasure map,” she said.
New York Times

Lone dissenter
Venezuelan Attorney General Luisa Ortega condemned her government’s use of violence against protesters in an interview with The Wall Street Journal, a statement that “appeared to confirm her break with the hard-line leftist regime.” Ortega’s careful criticisms of President Nicolas Maduro come as his increasingly authoritarian government is trying to remove her from the public eye.
Wall Street Journal

Paging the president
YouTube CEO Susan Wojcicki said that the most important thing U.S. President Donald Trump can do to help the tech industry is to pass a paid leave law. Wojcicki, the mother of five children, spoke about the need for federal paid leave legislation on Wednesday at a breakfast in New York City, where she noted that a quarter of American women go back to work 10 days after giving birth.

Moving the party line
The U.S. House of Representatives’ minority leader Nancy Pelosi said that the Democratic party should be open to candidates who are not pro-choice. “This is the Democratic party. This is not a rubber-stamp party,” she told The Washington Post. Abortion has become a newly contentious issue among Democrats, who are still regrouping after the 2016 election; Pelosi said the party cannot afford to use abortion rights as a litmus test for candidates.
Washington Post


Industry ambassadors
Jean Liu, president of Didi Chuxing, China’s largest ride-hailing company, joins venture capitalist Carmen Chang, consultant Anne Stevenson-Yang, CEO Cindi Mi, and entrepreneur Jennifer Wang atop Foreign Policy’s list of business leaders powering the U.S.-China relationship.
Foreign Policy

Live-stream life
Young women are driving China’s $4.3 billion live-streaming industry, appearing on-air to sing, dance, or sometimes just eat a bowl of soup. Some 150 Chinese streaming platforms work with talent agencies to recruit female anchors, often paying for them to undergo cosmetic surgery to improve their chances of becoming internet celebrities.
Business Insider

News summaries by Linda Kinstler @lindakinstler


America first? No, says former secretary of state Condoleezza Rice
New York Times

Emmanuel Macron is 39 and his wife is 64. French women say it's about time.
Washington Post

Adele crowned richest British solo artist after earning £40 million last year
Elle UK

Intel says Diane Bryant is stepping back temporarily

Prince Philip, Queen Elizabeth II's husband, will step away from his public duties this fall
New York Times

American women are facing a fertility crisis


"From early on, I had the idea that this is how it would be, that people would know who I was. It was an insane wave of self-belief—not earned."
--Poet Patricia Lockwood, on what drove her to pursue writing professionally.