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The World’s Most Powerful Women: June 27

Valentina Zarya here, filling in for Claire this week.

Angela Merkel was all over the news Monday, thanks in large part to doing a wide-ranging interview on stage at Berlin’s Gorki Theatre with journalists from German women’s magazine Brigitte. Some notable tidbits from the conversation:

  • Stance on same-sex marriage. Merkel said that she “hopes” that the debate will shift “into the direction of a decision of conscience.” In other words, that parliamentarians would be able to vote based on their beliefs, regardless of their party platforms. Her Christian Democrat party and the nationalist Afd are the only two major parties that do not currently support same-sex unions. (Germany has allowed same-sex couples to enter civil partnerships since 2001, but same-sex marriages remain illegal.)
  • Germany’s relationship with the U.S. “As Europeans it’s our task to take responsibility, and no longer completely rely on the U.S.,” she said. She also spoke at length about the infamous missed handshake with U.S. President Donald Trump, revealing that when she later asked Trump about the incident, he told her that he had been “under the impression that he had already shaken my hand twice—which was true.”
  • (Near) lack of social media use. Merkel doesn’t have a Twitter account, but said: “I use it sometimes … then I enter Donald Trump on Twitter and I have it all.”
  • Love of laughter. “Humor is important in politics,” she said. “I laugh at least once every day, otherwise I cannot do this job,” she said, adding that she would “never allow people to take away my holiday from me.”

The 90-minute interview comes three months before national elections. Her only real opponent in the race for chancellor is Social Democrat Martin Schulz—though Merkel has a healthy lead in the opinion polls.



A true changing of the guardA Canadian soldier made history Monday by becoming the first woman to lead the Changing of the Guard ceremony at Buckingham Palace. Although women have served in frontline duties in the British army, they were not allowed in “ground close combat” until July 2016. Britain’s government is now phasing in combat roles over the next three years. Fortune


Bibi concedes on Kotel
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu Sunday backtracked on a decision to create a space at the Western Wall in Jerusalem where men and women can pray together. The segregation of the wall—an important religious symbol for Jews around the world—has become the focal point in the battle over rituals between Orthodox and liberal Jewish communities. The decision is seen as a concession to Netanyahu’s ultra-Orthodox coalition partners.
New York Times

Superhero scientist
Eqbal Dauqan is a female scientist from what the World Economic Forum has determined is the hardest place on Earth to be a woman: Yemen. Still, in 2014, the biochemist was on top of the world, having been named one of the top women scientists in the developing world by the Elsevier Foundation. She was the subject of multiple feature stories and was made head of a department at Al Saeed University. That all changed when she started getting death threats.

Getting left behind
The Zambia Chinese Agricultural Technology Demonstration Centre (ZATDC) has built 25 centres across the country as part of an initiative to bring agricultural training to local people. However, Zambian women are being left out of the initiative. While 65% of the country’s farmers are female, just 42 of the 1,300 workers trained at the ZATDC have been female.


The problem with ‘open secrets’
My colleague Erin Griffith has an excellent recap and analysis of the events at Binary Capital, the U.S. VC firm from which Justin Caldbeck resigned over the weekend after allegations that he sexually harassed multiple women came to light in The Information. “When partners get quietly pushed out, it doesn’t help anyone,” Erin writes. “That person will get another job or raise their own fund. Which means we’re setting up more women to go through the same horrible experience that the women who exposed Caldbeck went through. It’s not enough for someone’s bad behavior to be an ‘open secret’ among the women who had to experience it firsthand.”

Is she or isn’t she?
Ivanka Trump, first daughter and White House senior advisor, made a few confusing statements during a televised interview Monday. After first giving her father an ‘A’ grade on his work as president thus far—”I’m slightly biased but definitely an A”—she then insisted she tries to stay out of politics. This coming from a woman who has made no secret of involving herself in a global women’s entrepreneurship fund and discussions with lawmakers about paid leave and environmental policy.


Working conditions in Cambodia
Women working in Cambodian factories supplying brands like Nike, Puma, Asics and VF Corporation are suffering from repeated mass faintings linked to poor working conditions. The women who collapsed worked 10-hour days, six days a week and reported feeling exhausted and hungry.


J.K. Rowling’s bravest hero

Lessons from the great male skirt rebellion of 2017
New York Times

Sexual equality in medical research long overdue, study finds

This Australian politician’s response to a male senator interrupting her is 17 seconds of magic

Congressional Black Caucus urges Uber to diversify leadership


“We had this internal joke in our office that if she’s ever in a bad mood, just put her in a room with children.”
—Melissa Winter, Michelle Obama's chief of staff, speaking about the former First Lady