Meghan Markle is surprising senators with phone calls about paid leave

Good morning, Broadsheet readers! A sexual assault allegation in tennis leads to web censorship in China, Katharine Graham will be on a postage stamp, and the Duchess of Sussex is ramping up her campaign for paid leave. Have a thoughtful Thursday.

– Hey, it’s Meg. Shelley Moore Capito was expecting to hear her fellow senator from West Virginia, Joe Manchin, on the line when she recently answered a phone call from an unlisted number. She was wrong.

“This is Meghan, the Duchess of Sussex,” said the person on the other end.

It turns out the Meghan Markle is personally calling Senators to urge them to pass paid leave. The tactic represents a significant ramp-up in her advocacy campaign for the policy that’s become a hot potato among Democrats, many of whom want to include it in President Joe Biden’s $1.85 trillion spending bill. Last month, Markle sent a letter to Congressional leaders arguing that comprehensive leave should be a “national right, rather than a patchwork option.” The letter, addressed to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) and Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.), noted that women were leaving the workforce, in part, because parents are “facing the conflict of being present or being paid.”

Markle’s dial-a-senator outreach also speaks to the fraught, drawn-out nature of the paid leave debate. Just last week, Democrats yanked it from the spending bill due to opposition from Manchin, a moderate Democrat who represents a critical vote. Then yesterday, Pelosi said four weeks of paid leave—whittled down from Biden’s initial proposal of 12 weeks—was back in the spending bill, though she told colleagues that she is “committed to only passing a bill in the House that can also pass the Senate.”

The duchess also rang up Sen. Susan Collins (R–Maine), who said she took Markle’s call on paid leave but is “more interested in what the people of Maine are telling me about it.”

Moore Capito, a Republican, told Politico she “couldn’t figure out” how Markle got her number. There was a simple explanation: Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D–N.Y.), a champion of paid leave, says she gave the duchess her colleagues’ contact info.

“I talked to each of the women senators and let them know that she’s going to reach out, because she only completed two of the calls,” Gillibrand said, according to Politico. “She’s going to call some others, so I let them know in advance.”

So far, nothing has convinced Congressional holdouts that paid leave is essential enough to the economy and Americans’ wellbeing to enshrine in law. Not Americans’ overwhelming support for the policy. Not peer pressure from nearly every other nation on Earth that already has such a scheme. Not a once-in-a-generation global pandemic that cast paid leave as a life-or-death matter. Not an essential vaccination campaign that’s hamstrung, in part, by employers’ refusal to give workers paid time off to receive—and recover from—a jab. Will the duchess’s star power turn the tide? It can’t hurt.

Claire Zillman

The Broadsheet, Fortune’s newsletter for and about the world’s most powerful women, is coauthored by Kristen Bellstrom, Emma Hinchliffe, and Claire Zillman. Today’s edition was curated by Emma Hinchliffe


- Tennis censorship. Chinese tennis star Peng Shuai said on her Weibo account that top tennis official Zhang Gaoli sexually assaulted her before she began an affair with him—a rare public allegation against a senior Chinese official. The post was wiped from Peng's account in what is assumed to be online censorship. Journalists haven't been able to reach Zhang for comment. Washington Post

- Stamp collector. Katharine Graham, the legendary Washington Post publisher and the first woman to lead a Fortune 500 company, is getting her own postage stamp. The stamp will be rolled out in 2022, the U.S. Postal Service announced this week. Fortune

- The results are in. Some more election results from Tuesday's races: Winsome Sears, a Republican, became Virginia’s first woman and first woman of color to win the state's lieutenant governor position. Shahana Hanif is the first Muslim woman elected to New York City Council. India Walton, who came out on top in a surprise primary upset in June, conceded in Buffalo, New York's mayoral race. She was a democratic socialist candidate; Mayor Byron W. Brown ran a successful write-in campaign for the general election. 

MOVERS AND SHAKERS: Anne Gates has been appointed as chair of Tapestry’s board. She's served on the company’s board since 2017.


- Protecting athletes. In an op-ed for Fortune, former Williams College track and field athlete Summer-Solstice Thomas writes that the NCAA must do more to protect student-athletes from sexual abuse. "It could have been me," Thomas writes, reflecting on sexual assault allegations against her former coach, John Rembao. (He has denied the allegations.) Fortune

- Women of the year. Glamour has picked its Women of the Year, who include everyone from scientist Katalin Karikó, whose decades of work on mRNA vaccines led to COVID-19 vaccines; to Amanda Gorman; to Megan Thee StallionGlamour

- Life in exile. Belarusian opposition leader Sviatlana Tsikhanouskaya is now living in exile in Lithuania. In a new interview, she talks about living under the Alexander Lukashenko regime and how she made the decision to go from "housewife" to political candidate in one night. Politico


GOP Sen. Cynthia Lummis urges Biden to ditch OSHA vaccine rule, lower age requirement for commercial trucking to ease supply chains CNBC

Fifteen Percent Pledge launches database of brands backed by Google Business of Fashion

Why won't anyone rent to the Vagina Museum? MEL Magazine


"It is important as women to realize that we’re pissed off. There is a feeling of, I want to burn this motherf***er to the ground. I think [it’s about] finding the balance. Because I don’t want to punish, I want to tell the truth. That’s it."

-Emily Ratajkowski on her new book My Body

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