With the calls for her to run for Senate only getting louder, Stacey Abrams is preparing to deliver one of the biggest speeches of her career tonight as the chosen responder to the State of the Union address.
The honor has been referred to as “the most dubious political prize in Washington” because of how often the addresses get panned, but Abrams’s record for high-octane oratory suggest she’s more likely to land a slam dunk.
The President is delivering his third SOTU before an unprecedented number of women, including Nancy Pelosi over his shoulder (cue the eye-roll GIFs); a record number of female Congressional members; and one of the women who famously confronted Jeff Flake over his vote in Brett Kavanaugh’s SCOTUS confirmation hearing.
Also staring down Trump from the audience will be Sandra Diaz and Victorina Morales, the undocumented former Trump Hotel workers who were fired for coming forward about his business practices.
TIME TO CLEAN HOUSE
While Marie Kondo’s Shinto-inspired organizational methods continue to fuel America’s obsession with Japanese domestic principles, it’s worth noting that of the world’s richest nations, Japan has the worst record when it comes to men taking on their share of domestic labor.
Prime Minister Shinzo Abe might have celebrated women in Japan’s workforce at Davos last month, but true career progression is impossible when working mothers still clock in 25 hours of housework a week, while their husbands average fewer than five.
The New York Times recently shared the story of Yoshiko Nishimasa, a successful publishing executive whose company automatically demoted her to part-time status when she became pregnant, against her wishes. When she secured a new full-time position, Nishimasa was so desperate to prove her worth she stayed until midnight every day — and miscarried from the stress. Years later, and finally a mom, Nishimisa broke her leg in a fall as she tried to balance clothes, towels, lunches and water bottles while wrestling her children down the stairs to school.
If Abe truly wants to boast about his vision for “womenomics,” he needs to switch his focus to their absent husbands first.
FINALLY IN TUNE
Justin Bieber, Pharrell, John Legend and Ariana Grande are among the superstars who have pledged to hire female producers and technicians for future recording sessions as the result of a new Grammys initiative.
After a study found that just 6 of the top 300 songs since 2012 were produced by women, the music industry has been forced to admit that this is a systemic issue — and you can expect Alicia Keys not to pull any punches when she hosts the 61st Awards on Sunday night.
A LITTLE LESS CONVERSATION
As peace negotiations between the United States and the Taliban continue, there’s been little public concern among American diplomats for how damaging a return to Taliban rule would be for Afghan women’s lives.
Observing the lack of debate, Obama’s former Ambassador to the region has written an essential piece in the Washington Post, calling the deal a “surrender” and describing his uphill battle to safeguard women’s rights in the region during his tenure.
In 2010, Afghan activist Farida Azizi begged the U.S. not to abandon her nation at our second Women in the World summit. Nine years later we wish her speech was no longer relevant, but it still bears sharing: Watch it here.
French cultural icons Catherine Deneuve and Catherine Millet infamously disparaged the #MeToo movement, and even united to advocate for men’s “right to bother.” But new government data has revealed that everyday French women were empowered, even if their icons were not.
Police in France received far more reports of sexual crimes in 2018 than 2017, and credit must go in part to the French government for tackling the issue head on, introducing sweeping legislation (including criminalizing catcalling) and developing an online portal to make reporting simpler and easier.
ALSO ON OUR MIND
Chicagoan hero Candice Payne impulsively rented 30 hotel rooms on her credit card for over 100 homeless people during last week’s polar vortex — and almost immediately raised the money back in donations.
The U.S. Navy performed it’s first ever all-female flyover to honor Rosemary Mariner, one of the first female Navy pilots who fought to lift the ban on women serving in combat. Known as the “Missing Man” tribute formation, they might want to change the wording, stat.
South Korean activists protested outside the Japanese embassy on Friday along with the casket of late “comfort women” campaigner Kim Bok-dong. The term is a euphemism for the women forced into sexual slavery by members of the Japanese military during World War II.
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