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World's highest-paid actress Jennifer Lawrence. (DANIEL LEAL-OLIVAS/AFP/Getty Images)

The Week in Women: Hollywood’s highest earners, a homeless woman’s windfall, and a centenarian’s saucy celebration

By Brigit Katz on August 26, 2016

Though we’re loathe to throw back to the dark days of Charlie Sheen, this week’s news cycle was all about #winning. Successes abounded—from J.Law’s whopping income to a 105-year-old woman’s epic birthday party. Let’s take a look back:

Jennifer Lawrence is, for the second time in two years, the highest-paid actress in the world, according to Forbes’ annual tally of the biggest salaries in the global movie business. Lawrence earned a cool $46 million between June of 2015 and June of 2016, largely thanks to a strong profit-sharing deal for her starring role in the latest installment of the Hunger Games franchise. But Lawrence, who has been an outspoken advocate for equal pay, falls drastically short of some of her male counterparts in terms of earning power. She brought in some $18 million less than top-earning actor Dwayne “The Rock Johnson,” who took in a total of $64.5 million for his roles in such, erm, illustrious films as the upcoming Baywatch remake.

An 80-year-old homeless woman living on the streets of Washington, D.C., was awarded $100,000 by the government, vindicating her long-standing claim that Social Security owed her thousands in back payments. Wanda Witter is a former paralegal who moved to Washington in 1999. When she could not find employment, she began claiming Social Security benefits, but noticed that the amount ranged widely each month—from $300 to $900. Unwilling to accept the money knowing that the sums were incorrect, she began mailing the checks back. Witter slept on the streets for 16 years alongside three suitcases, all of which contained meticulously filed paperwork proving her case. Last year, a social worker agreed to go through Witter’s bags, and ultimately connected her to legal counsel. Witter received a Social Security check for $100,000 earlier this week.

A recent case in Israel’s Supreme Rabbinical Court is giving hope to so-called “chained women,” who are seeking release from unwanted marriages. According to Orthodox Jewish law, a marriage cannot be undone unless the man consents to a “get”—the Hebrew word for divorce. But due to an influx of new judges, and in response to increased public pressure, Israel’s courts have been taking a hard stance on recalcitrant husbands. On August 8, a Haredi man was sentenced to 30 days in jail for pressuring his son to withhold a divorce from his wife. In July, Israeli media reported that the court sentenced a recalcitrant husband to five years in jail. Rachel Levmore, a rabbinical court advocate who works with chained women, said she believes these rulings reflect “a new spirit of caring and understanding of the woman’s position as a victim of get refusal.”

A 105-year-old British woman has officially won at life. Ivena “Ivy” Smailes, who lives at the Addison Court Care Home in England, had her birthday cake delivered by five firemen—as per her request. When asked what she wanted for her birthday, Smailes said that her only desire was “a cake delivered by a fireman with tattoos.” The local Tyne and Wear Fire and Rescue Service was more than happy to oblige, with one fireman even climbing through the window to personally deliver her cake. According to Debra Carter, who works at the care home, Ivy has said “that next year she wants to meet Prince Harry.” We feel you, Ivy. We feel you.