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The World’s Most Powerful Women: May 8

Centrist Emmanuel Macron was elected president of France on Sunday, defeating the far-right National Front’s Marine Le Pen 66.1% to 33.9% and sending the euro to a six-month high.

Macron, 39, will be the nation’s youngest president. A former investment banker, he has never held elected office, having previously served as economic minister under President François Hollande. His victory brought a sigh of relief to the EU, which Macron strongly supports; Le Pen had vowed to lead France out of the bloc.

In a brief acceptance speech to supporters, Macron said he had heard “the rage, anxiety and doubt that a lot of you have expressed” over the election, promising to spend his term “fighting the forces of division that undermine France.” As president, Macron said he would “guarantee the unity of the nation and… defend and protect Europe.”

Le Pen thanked the 11 million voters who supported her and vowed to “lead the fight” in parliamentary elections next month and promised a “profound transformation” of the National Front. One adviser suggested the party would be renamed in an interview with the BBC.

Throughout her campaign, Le Pen aimed to use her gender to her advantage, referring to herself as “Marine” in campaign materials that portrayed her as a “strong Everywoman — mother, lawyer and patriot of France,” according to The New York Times. She had hoped that a bump from female voters would drive her to the presidency, but Sunday night proved that was not to be. Her 144-point platform promised a number of extreme changes, including permanently closing French borders, banning Islamic veils, and rescinding all free-trade agreements. According to an Ipsos poll, about 43% of Macron voters supported him to keep out Le Pen.

Late Sunday evening, Macron spoke before hundreds of supporters at the Louvre, greeted by the Beethoven’s Ode to Joy, the EU’s anthem. “This evening, it is Europe and the world who are watching us,” he said. “I will serve you with love…Vive la République, vive la France.”



Kagame’s challengerRwandan women’s rights activist Diane Rwigara, 35, will run against President Paul Kagame in the country’s August election to take a stand against the government’s record of human rights abuses. “Things cannot go on the way they are,” she says. “You cannot keep people in bondage for too long.”Deutsche Welle


Captives released
Boko Haram released 82 Chibok schoolgirls that the Islamist group had held captive since April 2014. The Red Cross, Swiss government, and barrister Mustapha Zanna negotiated the release of the girls in exchange for five militant leaders. More than 100 schoolgirls remain under Boko Haram’s control. 

Ladies of the land
A grassroots women’s movement in Morocco has spent the past ten years campaigning for equal ownership rights in a country where women remain at a legal disadvantage in matters of property. The group, called the Sulaliyyates, is fighting the privatization of tribal lands, which forced thousands of women out of their homes and into slums.
New York Times


Yates gets her say
Former U.S. Acting Attorney General Sally Yates will testify before the crime and terrorism subcommittee of the Senate Judiciary Committee today. Yates was fired in January when she said she would not defend the Trump administration’s executive order on immigration in court; she will testify about her communications with White House officials regarding former national security adviser Michael Flynn’s contacts with Russian Amassador Sergey Kislyak.

Yellen’s warning
Federal Reserve chairman Janet Yellen warned of the long term economic consequences of the gender wage gap and other workplace inequities during a speech at Brown University. “If these obstacles persist, we will squander the potential of many of our citizens and incur a substantial loss to the productive capacity of our economy at a time when the aging of the population and weak productivity growth are already weighing on economic growth,” she said.

Leveraging the law
Becca Heller, 35, has helped resettle over 3,000 refugees in the U.S. through her nonprofit, the International Refugee Assistance Project, which she founded while studying at Yale Law School. Since then, the project has blossomed into a network of some 2,000 lawyers that Heller is now leading in a concerted push to fight the Trump administration’s executive orders on immigration.
New York Times


Kushner’s conflicts
Nicole Kushner Meyer, sister of Jared Kushner, senior adviser and son-in-law of President Donald Trump, headlined a Beijing citizenship-for-investment event to encourage wealthy Chinese citizens to “invest $500,000 and immigrate to the United States.” The Chinese company Qiaowai partnered with Kushner Companies on the initiative, which immediately raised concerns about conflicts of interest as Jared Kushner emerges as a crucial player in U.S.-China relations.
Washington Post

Silent abuse
The UN, U.K., India, and parts of Pakistan recognize economic abuse as a form of domestic abuse. A new study of Pakistani Muslim and Gujarati Hindu mothers living in the U.K., India, and Pakistan found that financial abuse is an overwhelmingly prevalent, but often silent, phenomenon.

News summaries by Linda Kinstler @lindakinstler


Sterling Jewelers settles charges of bias against female workers
New York Times

30 women to know in London’s tech scene
Craig Connects

A campaign to make every woman count in Zimbabwe’s next election
News Deeply

Nicki Minaj spontaneously paid fans’ tuition upon request

A mother’s struggle to feed her son in Venezuela
Wall Street Journal


“[T]here’s never been a better time to be a woman in any type of leadership position—or a woman at all, for that matter.”
--Former Microsoft exec Jill Angelo, on excelling in a male-dominated industry.