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The World’s Most Powerful Women: July 24

The BBC last week disclosed the pay of its top on-air talent and, in doing so, revealed a yawning gender pay gap. Two-thirds of the top-paid employees named on the list were male and white. After the list’s publication, director general Tony Hall vowed that the broadcaster would work to close the divide by 2020.

Women at the network, it turns out, don’t want to wait that long.

In an open letter to Hall published yesterday, 42 female BBC employees demanded that he fix the gender pay gap immediately.

“You have said that you will ‘sort’ the gender pay gap by 2020, but the BBC has known about the pay disparity for years. We all want to go on the record to call upon you to act now,” said the letter signed by well-known TV personalities like Clare Balding, Sue Barker, and Angela Rippon.

The women said the salary disclosure confirmed their long-held suspicion that “women at the BBC are being paid less than men for the same work.”

One of the letter’s signatories, BBC Radio 4 presenter Mishal Husain, tackled the gender pay gap issue with an acute sense of urgency last week when she grilled Hall—her boss—about it live, on air.

Husain asked Hall how he’s going to address the pay gap. Rather than answering directly, he touted how many women are hosting early morning shows. Husain pressed Hall to answer her question, and he responded vaguely:

“By 2020 we’ll have equality between men and women on air, and we’ll have the pay gap sorted by then too. Whatever company we’re in to look at the gender pay gap and do something about it and I’m committed to doing something about it.”

He also argued that the BBC must live “within its means.”

When Husain asked if that meant men would have to take pay cuts, Hall said he’d be working on the issue “case-by-case” and recited, again, that the BBC was improving on-air equality between men and women.

The two eventually ran out of time, but—as Sunday’s letter proves—that certainly won’t be the end of Hall’s questioning.

@clairezillman

 

EUROPE/MIDDLE EAST/AFRICA

Counter argumentThe U.K. pharmacy chain Boots has apologized after it refused to reduce the cost of a morning-after pill on the grounds that a lower price could “incentivize inappropriate use.” (Other stores had cut prices.) Boots’ initial response prompted outrage among some female MPs who accused the chain of leveling a “sexist surcharge.” “Do they give a lecture on consent with all condom purchases?” asked Labour MP Jess Phillips. Boots now says it is seeking cheaper alternatives.Guardian

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Wheels in motion
Amsterdam’s deputy mayor Kajsa Ollongren, head of economic affairs for the city, says she’s in “serious conversations” with 60 companies that are looking to lock in prime locations outside of London as Brexit looms. Ollongren is playing up the city’s lifestyle—”you can cycle here and don’t have to sit in a very hot subway”—but she admits that the country’s bonus cap—banks can only award a maximum of 20% of a fixed annual salary—is a serious disadvantage for Amsterdam as it competes against other European cities for financial firms.
Bloomberg
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Victory for victims
This summer, parliaments in Lebanon and Jordan will vote on repealing laws that allow rapists to dodge prosecution by marrying their victims. Such laws were built on the patriarchal attitude that rape brings shame to victims’ families; marriage shielded families from such scrutiny but also overlooked the act’s criminal nature. But across the Middle East, the laws are falling under pressure from better educated women and savvy social media campaigns.
New York Times

 

THE AMERICAS

Coming up short
Chile is one of only a handful of countries where abortion is illegal without exception. The government was close to making good on President Michelle Bachelet’s campaign promise to reform the policy last week, but it came up one vote short of passing a law that would’ve allowed the procedure in some circumstances, including that of rape. The bill will now go through a messy reconciliation process that could take weeks.
Reuters
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In the same boat
It’s been almost 20 months since the U.S. Defense Department opened all combat roles within the U.S. military to women, but only now is the elite SEAL division of the Navy getting its first female candidate. To pass, the woman—whom the Navy is not identifying—will have to complete the same grueling training as men; the Navy doesn’t not make any accommodations for differences in physical capability. 
NPR
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Trust issues
New disclosures from Jared Kusher show that his wife Ivanka Trump or her trust has received $12.6 million since early 2016 from various Trump family business ventures and her eponymous clothing brand. She also has an arrangement to receive at least $1.5 million a year from real estate entities as she serves in the White House. Experts say her various business stakes raise ethical red flags as she takes on a broad portfolio of government projects. 
New York Times
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Star power
The Smithsonian Magazine has the story of Maria Mitchell, one of the first professional female astronomers who in 1847, became the first woman elected into the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. Her life shows how astronomy was open to both genders before it became a profession.
Smithsonian

ASIA-PACIFIC

Nanny state
The Wall Street Journal has a fascinating look at China’s yuezi centers, facilities where new mothers spend a month taking things easy after giving birth. They’re a posh, modern take—complete with pampering nannies and nutritionists—on the traditional at-home yuezi, when new moms stay in bed and let relatives take care of the cooking, cleaning, and child care. But some women find even the fancier version of the long-held custom to be prison-like. Said one mom: “I wanted to behave well so that they would release me earlier.”
Wall Street Journal
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Fore-runner
In the last decade, seven South Korean woman have won the U.S. Women’s Open golf tournament. So what’s behind their success? Work ethic and unmitigating familial support are two big factors. Another is Pak Se-ri, the now-retired player whose Hall of Fame career is credited with launching South Korea’s female golf craze. 
BBC

IN BRIEF

‘Wonder Woman’ is getting a sequel
Entertainment Weekly

More than half the murders of women in the U.S. are partner-related
The Outline

The mystery of why Japanese people are having so few babies
Atlantic

The female warlord who had C.I.A. connections and opium routes
New York Times

Denmark thinks free birth control for African countries will slow Europe’s migrant crisis
Quartz

PARTING WORDS

“Everything about me is valid. Every curve is valid. My skin is valid.”
—Comedian Jessica Williams on how womanism and feminism taught her to accept herself.