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The World’s Most Powerful Women: May 15

New York City’s subway system is taking a cue from London by introducing “Baby on Board” buttons for pregnant riders to help them secure often elusive seats on public transit. The yellow and blue button is the latest effort by the subway authority to encourage New Yorkers to be more polite to fellow commuters. (It previously targeted the “manspreading” epidemic.) “Please offer me a seat” buttons will also be available to older people and disabled riders.

“Pregnant riders, seniors and those with disabilities often need seats more than others, but their condition may not always be visible,” Veronique Hakim, the authority’s interim executive director, told The New York Times. “We hope this campaign will help their fellow riders to be more willing to offer them a seat without having to ask a personal question first.”

The NYC campaign is thought to be the first of its kind in the U.S. London, meanwhile, has handed out “Baby on Board” buttons to pregnant riders since 2005. The pin was popularized by—who else?—the Duchess of Cambridge, the former Kate Middleton, when she wore one on the Tube in 2013. The London transit system distributes about 130,000 buttons every year.

The pilot program in NYC that began on Mother’s Day and runs through Labor Day could offer relief to pregnant subway riders who often face the uncomfortable choice of enduring a standing commute or awkwardly asking a sitting passenger for a seat. The ubiquity of smartphones means pregnant women in need of seats are often ignored as fellow riders are transfixed by their devices.

One pregnant New Yorker grew so frustrated with being forced to stand that she carried around a small trophy on the off-chance a fellow rider offered her a seat. Yvonne Lin had completed nearly two entire pregnancies before a male passenger gave up his seat for her. (She’d received plenty of offers from women.) When a man forfeited his seat to Lin on the A train in February, she handed him the prize that read “#1 DECENT DUDE.”



Re-energized re-electionGerman Chancellor Angela Merkel got a boost in her re-election bid yesterday when her party won a surprise victory in regional elections in the country’s most populous state. The Christian Democrats’ win dealt a heavy blow to SPD leader Martin Schulz who’s seeking to unseat Merkel in the national election in September.Guardian


Alice vs. Angela
When Germans head to the polls this fall, the Alternative für Deutschland party will field—at least notionally—Alice Weidel as its candidate to replace Merkel as chancellor. As Fortune‘s Geoffrey Smith explains, the openly gay woman with two children in a same-sex union is an unlikely pick for the right-wing movement.

Wooing workers
In an op-ed published today, British PM Theresa May promised the “greatest extension of rights and protections for employees by any Conservative government in history,” as she seeks to consolidate her party’s grip on British politics. The upcoming Conservative manifesto will strengthen the rights of “gig economy” workers, signal tougher rules to protect employees’ pensions, and give them the right to leave work for training purposes, to care for a family member, or in cases of child bereavement.
Financial Times



A troubling trend
Maternal mortality is rising in the U.S. as it declines elsewhere in the world. A ProPublica and NPR investigation of the trend found an American medical system focused more on fetal and infant safety and survival than on the mother’s health and well-being.

Vetted for the Vatican
As early as this week—and ahead of President Donald Trump’s meeting with Pope Francis—the White House could nominate Callista Gingrich, the wife of former House Speaker Newt Gingrich, to be the next ambassador to the Vatican. Her nomination for the post has been rumored for several months, but the announcement has been delayed by pending approval from the Office of Government Ethics. During the presidential campaign, Gingrich’s husband was a close ally of Trump’s and was up for a Cabinet position, but decided against taking a role in the administration.

During her husband’s campaign and early in his presidency, Melania Trump has not displayed a deep passion for any particular policy issue. One topic she’s previously raved about is her son, Barron. “The love. It’s unconditional love,” she said in an interview some 10 years ago. On Mother’s Day in the U.S., The Washington Post asked whether the first lady will carve out a role as mom-in-chief or be a mother solely to her son.
Washington Post


Haley hits back
U.S. Ambassador to the UN Nikki Haley blasted North Korea’s missile test yesterday as “not the way to sit down” with President Donald Trump. Her comments came hours after North Korea launched a ballistic missile that flew about 430 miles before crashing into the sea. Earlier this month, Trump had opened the door to talks with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un and on Saturday a top North Korean diplomat said Pyongyang would be willing to sit down with the Trump administration “if the conditions are set.”
NBC News


How a woman in England tracks civilian deaths in Syria, one bomb at a time
Washington Post

A new Marine Corps ad is targeting women
Associated Press

Read Sheryl Sandberg’s commencement speech to Virginia Tech grads

This Mother’s Day, the Women’s March organizers want you to have difficult conversations


“I want to say thank you to my mother who said to me: ‘Darling, you can be whatever you want to be as long as you’re outrageous.'”
—British actress Phoebe Waller-Bridge, who won Best Female Performance in a Comedy Programme at the British Academy of Film and Television Arts Awards last night.