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Women world leaders respond to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine

February 25, 2022, 2:13 PM UTC

Good morning, Broadsheet readers! Ana Botín gives up some responsibility at Santander, a VC firm pledges to only hire women in 2022, and women world leaders respond to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. See you here on Monday.

– The impact of an invasion. It can be hard to focus on much else in the news as Russia’s invasion of Ukraine dominates headlines. Fortune has been covering the geopolitical imbroglio’s impact on business, from the plunging Russian stock market and sanctions against Russian oligarchs to soaring energy prices and uncertainty in the global markets.

Of course, human lives are also at risk as Europe braces for one of the worst security crises since World War II. The stats are foreboding: A war in Ukraine could displace more than 1 million people into nearby European countries. This isn’t a story with an obvious gender angle right now, but here are a few things to keep in mind as you follow the news:

  • Ukrainian women in Kyiv, the nation’s capital, signed up in droves for self-defense and survival courses put on by the Ukraine Women’s Guard earlier this week. About 700 attendees learned how to pack emergency bags, stop bleeding, and secure necessary supplies in the event of an attack, CNN reports.
  • As we noted yesterday, women now make up a much larger share of Ukraine’s military than they did in 2014, during the last Russia-Ukraine conflict. Female soldiers and officers will likely be on the front lines of this battle, the Wall Street Journal reports.
  • European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen is among the European leaders deciding what sanctions to place against Russia. “What we are facing is an unprecedented act of aggression by the Russian leadership against a sovereign, independent country,” she said yesterday.
  • The prime minister of Estonia, Kaja Kallas, understands what it’s like to live in Moscow’s shadow. Unlike Ukraine, Estonia, which borders Russia, is a member of NATO and has the protections that come with the military alliance. “There seems to be a certain type of naivety towards Russia” among democratic countries, she told the Financial Times.
  • For months, Finland has been debating whether to apply for NATO membership. Finnish Prime Minister Sanna Marin now says “the debate on NATO membership in Finland will change” as a result of Russian President Vladimir Putin’s actions in Ukraine.
  • And, most importantly, the perspectives of everyday Ukrainians whose lives are being upended. Anna, a mother of three who lives in Chernihiv, spoke to the New York Times as she sat in traffic attempting to flee westward. “I fear for my kids,” she told the Times.

Emma Hinchliffe
emma.hinchliffe@fortune.com
@_emmahinchliffe

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ALSO IN THE HEADLINES

- Regulator-ordered reshuffle. Santander chair Ana Botín (No. 3 on Fortune's Most Powerful Women International list) gave up some responsibilities at the bank in an effort to appease European Central Bank regulators who raised corporate governance concerns. CEO José Antonio Álvarez took over operational authority and will now report to the board, not to Botín directly. She will continue to oversee strategy and two technology units. Financial Times

- Hiring spree. In Broadsheet sister newsletter Term Sheet, Jessica Mathews reports on a venture capital firm that has pledged to only hire women for the rest of the year. Swiftarc Ventures hired half a dozen women to date as part of the firm's yearlong pledge to increase gender diversity. Fortune

- Game on. Electronic Arts COO Laura Miele is one of the most senior women in the gaming industry. She commented on the sexual harassment, misogyny, and bullying allegations at Activision Blizzard in a recent keynote, although she didn't mention the company by name. "Leaders who fall short of basic standards must go," she said. IGN

MOVERS AND SHAKERS: Sima Sistani, the founder of the social network Houseparty who became an exec at Epic Games after the app's acquisition, will be the next CEO of WW, formerly known as Weight Watchers. She succeeds Mindy Grossman, who is stepping down from the role. Alex Cavoulacos, a founder of The Muse, will become CEO of NFT and Web3 community Meta Angels. Videra Health added Rana el Kaliouby to its board of directors. Save the Children added disability rights activist Judy Heumann, former Slack chief people officer Nadia Rawlinson, Homeland Security acting assistant secretary for counterterrorism Samantha Vinograd, and former chair of the University of Washington Foundation Korynne Wright to its board of trustees.   

IN CASE YOU MISSED IT

- Farewell to fees. Citigroup, led by CEO Jane Fraser, will soon be the first of the top five retail banks in the U.S. to eliminate overdraft fees. The fees have drawn scrutiny from regulators, who say they hurt the most financially vulnerable. CNN

- Quantity over quality? Male investors are more likely to sacrifice ESG goals for a financial return, according to a new study of Danish investors. Fifty-nine percent of men say they would invest in companies that ignored sustainability if they earned higher returns, compared to 41% of women. Bloomberg

- Tax time. Although the tax credit payment for families has lapsed, there's still another child tax credit—for businesses. Companies can receive up to $150,000 in tax credits annually for offering childcare to their employees. But only 11% of workers have access to such services, according to a new report by the Government Accountability Office. The stats show how U.S. infrastructure has failed to support working parents, Fortune's Megan Leonhardt reports. Fortune

ON MY RADAR

Why pregnant people were left behind while vaccines moved at ‘warp speed’ to help the masses Kaiser Health News

‘I’m in pain wherever I am’: the troubling rise of concussion in girls’ lacrosse Guardian

Who's afraid of Pamela Anderson? Vulture

PARTING WORDS

"My job is to be Beanie’s version of Fanny Brice and not Barbra’s version of Fanny Brice. But I say that with the most love and adoration."

-Actor Beanie Feldstein on stepping into Barbra Streisand's iconic role in the Broadway revival of Funny Girl.

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