Welcome to “Women Around the World: This Week,” a series that highlights noteworthy news related to women and U.S. foreign policy. This week’s post, covering from May 20 to May 27, was compiled with support from Becky Allen and Anne Connell.
Tsai Ing-wen inaugurated in Taiwan Taiwan inaugurated its new president, Tsai Ing-wen, last week, following a landslide win by the liberal Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) in parliamentary and presidential elections this past January. Tsai’s inauguration not only makes her Taiwan’s first female leader, but also the first woman unrelated to a male politician to be elected as a head of government in any Asian country. Tsai has signaled that domestic issues will be her top priority in office, citing the need to improve Taiwan’s educational system, boost its economy, and reform its judicial system in her inaugural address. She treaded cautiously with respect to Taiwan’s relations with China, calling for “positive dialogue” but declining to mention the contentious 1992 Consensus that asserts the “one China” principle backed by Beijing. Just days into her term, Tsai sparked controversy not for her stance on cross-strait relations, but because of her status as a single female politician: an opinion piece published by the Xinhua news agency this week argued that said Tsai is emotionally unfit to lead the country because she has no husband or children, which is still seen by many as anathema to traditional Chinese culture. The piece was widely denounced in both Taiwan and mainland China as sexist and removed from major news sites, and thousands of Chinese-language social media users expressed outrage about its claims.
World leaders promote women at the G7 summit As leaders of seven industrialized countries gather for this week’s two-day G7 summit in Japan, economic and security concerns dominate the agenda. The G7 leaders are expected to discuss monetary, fiscal, and structural policies to spur growth, including the promotion of policies to support the entry of more women in the workforce. Reports suggest that Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s government, which has worked to incentivize women’s participation in the labor market in order to foster economic growth, played a significant role in elevating women’s economic contributions on the G7 program. Also on the agenda are proposals to incorporate women into women in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) fields. A declaration on women and STEM, adopted during a ministerial pre-summit meeting attended by science and technology ministers from Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, the United Kingdom, and the United States, will be presented to heads of government by Japan’s Science and Technology Policy Minister Aiko Shimajiri during the summit.
Woman takes top job at FIFA The president of Fédération Internationale de Football Association (FIFA), soccer’s global governing body, made history last week by appointing Fatma Samoura of Senegal as the organization’s new secretary-general. In assuming FIFA’s second most powerful post, Samoura will become the first woman to ever hold any senior executive position in FIFA, and will be a rare non-European appointee in a global organization heavily criticized for the lack of geographic representation in personnel. Her predecessor, Jérôme Valcke, was fired amid an ethics investigation. Markus Kattner, acting secretary-general, was fired this month for paying himself millions in a secret bonus scheme. FIFA President Gianni Infantino praised the depth of Samoura’s operational experience at the World Food Program in Rome and as a former United Nations official in Cameroon, Chad, Djibouti, Guinea, Madagascar, and Nigeria. She will assume leadership of an organization in crisis: FIFA announced massive restructuring this year in response to allegations of pervasive corruption, racketeering, wire fraud, money laundering, and match fixing, as well as scathing critiques of gender inequality, including an equal pay dispute between female World Cup champions and the U.S. Soccer Federation.