R.I.P Sarah Everard
Welcome to The Chief Brief. A weekly (every Sunday) spotlight on global, diverse, and innovative female leaders, and the news influencing them to change the world. The CB breaks down the story for you, curates news from around the world, and links to connect with the women making that news! It is my first step in a passion project to build a globally connected community of women leaders.
*This post has been edited to correct the name of the organisers of the Sarah Everard vigil.
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I’m angry. If you don’t live in the U.K., you may not have heard of Sarah. But her case, like so many women around the world hammers it home. Whether you live in New Delhi, Caracas, Jo-berg, New York, or London - Women are not safe. Not safe to walk alone, not safe to see friends, go to the corner store or the movies. Not safe to be women, especially after dark. And we’re still in Women’s History Month, and it’s only been 6 days since the world ‘celebrated’ International Women’s Day.
Sarah was 33. A marketing executive living in a London neighbourhood called Brixton. On March 3rd, she visited a friend in the nearby neighbourhood of Clapham and was walking back home at 9pm. The timeline shows she did all the things we all do to stay safe. She went home early, walked down a busy road, and called her boyfriend on her way back. But then she disappeared, just after 9:30pm. Her body was found in a builder’s bag far from London, in a woodland area in Kent. A Metropolitan police (Met police) officer, Wayne Couzens was arrested, and is currently being tried in court for her kidnap and murder.
Sarah’s case has struck a nerve for many of us in the U.K. and a covid-safe vigil was planned for Saturday evening. The organisers and participants were all volunteers, for whom Sarah’s story was theirs. Even an off-duty Duchess of Cambridge turned up at the vigil spot to pay her respects. A reminder, that it could have been any of us. Male violence toward women is as much a developed country problem as a developing country’s.
Yes, we all recognise there is a pandemic on. And precisely why organisers from #ReclaimtheseStreets wanted to coordinate a covid safe vigil with the Met police. But permission was denied, citing covid ‘protest rules.’ A high court judge then ruled that the vigil was not illegal, but was instead permissible at the discretion of the Met police. They once again said no.
Sarah’s family urged the organisers to cancel it. And they did so, very visibly. But women still turned up. They needed each other to face reality. We aren’t safe, seemingly even from the police. Last night, the Met police who should’ve been walking on eggshells considering the accused is one of their own, turned a vigil to highlight violence against women, violent.
What’s been most disappointing in the lack of empathy shown, is that the leaders who could have taken this storyline to a more positive space, and rebuilt lost trust are women.
The heavy handedness of the police was dismissed by Met Police Assistant Commissioner Helen Ball as ‘necessary.’ This is a Met police that’s also headed by a woman, Met Police Commissioner Cressida Dick. Her narrative is that it is “incredibly rare for a woman to be abducted from our streets.” The problem she says is domestic violence.
This disingenuous claim ignores the statistics. The staggering number of assault and rape cases that don’t get investigated in the U.K. and never get to court. Or the light sentences handed out when they do. It takes a woman to die to get the criminal justice system in the U.K to wake up.
Her boss the Home Secretary is a woman too. Priti Patel this morning has been busy scrambling to justify actions of last night. But at the same time is bringing a policing bill under covid regulations to Parliament tomorrow. It will give even more power to the police, especially regarding gatherings and protests.
I am angry. Where is the empathy? Why is it my responsibility to stay safe and not the men around me to not attack or kill me? I lived in New Delhi in the early 2000s when women like me had to undertake self-imposed curfews to stay safe and alive. Stepping out of my home after dark was equivalent to risking rape and my life. Going to the corner store was risking rape and my life. Finishing work and waiting at the office door for my ride, was risking rape and my life. Wearing any old outfit, was risking rape and my life. It turns out in 2021, despite living in the western, developed world and an international city like London, I am still not safe and am still risking my life.
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China’s gender roles discussion
Every year, China’s most powerful political conference meets for over a week in two sessions called ‘lianghui’. It is an opportunity for delegates put forward proposals for new social policies. This year the focus was on the role of women and men in society. Boy did it cause some outrage! Proposals ranged from dropping the marriage age in China to 18, romance as part of school curriculum, extending maternity leave, "gender-differential" education to boost masculinity among boys, and a controversial school program on sexual assault. Read more here.
Nigeria’s changing laws
Nigeria’s Senate has declared its intention to expunge provisions in the country’s Police Act, Federal Character Law, Electoral Act, Labour Act, Political Parties Constitutions, that infringe on the rights of women in Nigeria. The amendments are aimed at gender parity and the mainstreaming of women affairs in national planning. Read more here.
Lina Khan is not a fan of big tech. Columbia University’s associate professor of law has been a champion for the antitrust community fighting big tech. She’s now also the Biden nominee for the Federal Trade Commission. The nomination is as clear a signal as any, the administration is fully backing progressive antitrust enforcement. Read more here.
A latest Associated Press (AP) survey on e-sport scholarships and opportunities by universities in the United States is an eye opener! The survey was of 27 Universities and colleges in the U.S. over this school year. Turns out male gamers get 88.5% of scholarship funds. It’s rather strange considering 41% of U.S. gamers are women, according to the Entertainment Software Association. Talking the talk it seems doesn’t translate to, walking the walk for these educational institutions. Read more here.
Business not as usual
50:50 at Shell
British-Dutch energy giant Shell’s got a new Chairman (formerly at BHP Andrew Mackenzie is definitely a man!) but has said its board for the first time, would have 50-50 gender parity. Cyber security expert Jane Lute will be proposed as a non-executive director in the company’s May Annual General Meeting. Read more here.
Step 1 of 20
Japan’s most powerful business body, also known as ‘Keidanren’ is appointing its first female vice chair in its 75 year history. Tomoko Namba, founder, and chairwoman of online service provider DeNA Co. will assume the post once it is approved at the organisation’s AGM on June 1st.
The not so good news? Tomoko will be the only woman to occupy one of the 20 vice chair posts. The rest will continue to be held by men. Read more here.
Rwanda Stock Exchange is upping its digitization efforts. The RSE has appointed SCL Advisory Limited, a company founded and led by Moroccan Selloua Chakri, to help it expand its database. The initiative is aimed at increasing the visibility and awareness of Rwanda in the eyes of regional and international investors. Read more here.
Have you met
The Final Afri-frontier
Get familiar with these ladies. Satellite company Astrofica’s founder Jessie Ndaba. Mars One astronaut candidate and founder of Proudly Human physicist Adriana Marais. Space lawyer (yes, that is a thing!) Ruvimbo Samanga who represents Zimbabwe on the Space Generation Advisory Council, supporting the UN Programme on Space Applications. The accomplishments of these ladies are all aimed at securing Africa’s place in conquering the final frontier. Read more here.
On the move
In the U.K.
Deborah Turness will be taking on the role of CEO of ITN. The company makes news programming for UK networks ITV, Channel 4, and Channel 5. Deborah was previously with NBC News International. Her new role at ITN marks a return to parent company ITV where she established her media credentials.
Ruth Davison joins Refuge as its CEO on 12 April from Comic Relief where she has been Interim Chief Executive since November 2019. As its CEO, Davison led Comic Relief through the global pandemic, significantly growing income and brand awareness raising over £100m combined.
In New Zealand
Tracey Taylor has become Yellow New Zealand’s first female CEO, in the phone directory provider’s 60 year history. She was previously the company’s chief experience officer.
Nicky Bell, is taking on the role of vice-president of Facebook Creative Shop. She was previously head of global client partnerships at R/GA and CEO of Saatchi & Saatchi New Zealand. In her new role, she will be based in the United States, in LA.
Caught my eye
Syria’s first lady, and former British born investment banker now faces war crimes prosecution in the United Kingdom. A preliminary investigation has been launched and she is accused of supporting and encouraging terrorism. This month marks 10 years since the start of the Syrian war, with an estimated 400,000 people killed and 6.5 million displaced. Read more here.
Nazanin Vs. Iran
Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe’s traumatic sage continues. She was released last week after a 5 year prison sentence in Iran. She appeared in court again on new charges of propaganda against the regime. The judge has told her to expect a verdict within seven working days, according to the Free Nazanin campaign. Read more here.
The world’s 22nd richest person and 4% owner of Amazon has got married! For the second time. To a science teacher in her children’s school. Dan Jewett has also signed up to the billionaire ‘The Giving Pledge,’ and backed up her promise to give away all her $53 billion net worth in her lifetime. Mackenzie Scott has found her happiness! Congratulations to the happy couple! Read more here.
Canadian place names
Canada’s federal government has released the first national map of its kind to commemorate and present geographical features that are named for women. Each point on the map is categorized by a theme — Indigenous cultures, family ties, royalty and religious figures, early settlers/pioneers, community service, arts/literature, medicine/science, and political figures. Explore the interactive map here.
No Manels in Indonesia
The ‘No Manel Pledge’ was initiated by UN resident coordinator for Indonesia, Valerie Julliand in early 2021. 40 male ambassadors in Jakarta, and officials from Indonesia’s foreign office have signed up. They won’t be speaking in any public discussions, conferences or webinars were there are no women experts/speakers present. And no, a female moderator does not count. Read more here
‘Bombay Begums’ was released on Netflix this week. The series is about the journey of growth of five women from different parts of society in modern Mumbai (formerly called Bombay). An Indian government body, the National Commission for Protection of Child Rights (NCPCR) wants Netflix to cancel the show, because of viewer complaints. Read more here.
Be a sport
Feels like Flying
“I felt like flying, it was a flight from top to bottom!” That is what women’s World Cup Slalom champion Katharina Liensberger had to say about her win this weekend. Her victory is Austria’s first in six years, and had her beating American Mikaela Shiffrin by 0.72 seconds. It also marks the last race before the World Cup finals. Watch her ‘fly!’
Visible down under
Women’s, niche and other underrepresented sports programs will now be available to stream for free on Australia’s Foxtel network and its streaming platform Kayo. Fox Sports has received $40 million in Australian Federal Government funding since 2017 to boost sports coverage of these groups. So the move isn’t surprising. From this week, expect to see live and on-demand games ranging from the Rugby Sevens to dragon boating. Read more here.
The artsy stuff
If you’ve ever been to the Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam, you’ve probably made your way to the gallery of honor. That’s where the works of Dutch Masters including Rembrandt hang. For the first time since it opened in 1885, the museum has added the works of 3 female Dutch masters to the gallery of honor.
Entering the Gallery of Honor “is like walking into a church, with all these chapels on the side and the high altar is Rembrandt,” Jenny Reynaerts, curator of 19th-century painting at the Rijksmuseum
The 3 female Dutch masters to be featured are Judith Leyster (c. 1600–1660), Rachel Ruysch (1664–1750), and Gesina ter Borch (1633–1690). For so many, their art was dismissed, accomplishments forgotten, and their works frequently misattributed to husbands, fathers, or male teachers. This feature the museum says is the first step in a four year research project to uncover Dutch women's histories and influence at the museum. Read more here.
Since most of us will not be travelling anytime soon, and the Rijksmuseum is temporarily closed due to the pandemic, why not instead get up close and personal with a virtual tour of the Gallery of honour. A little art, always lifts the spirit!
The Rijksmuseum’s focus on women’s leadership and their influence on Dutch society isn’t a new one. Take a personalised tour with curator in training Maaike Rikhof! It’s better than renting a headset when you’re actually there!
Tip of the week
The 11th Annual Space Foundation International Student Art Contest is now live and open for submissions. Art Foundation COO Shelli Brunswick aim? To inspire young girls and boys to use art to explore science, mathematics, engineering and technology. The competition is for student artists aged 3-18 year olds, gets 4,000 entries annually, and is in its 10th year.
If you know, or have kids in that age group (especially young girls!), get them to take part in the competition! STEM need them!