If you remember my Rich, Richer, Richest post a while back, you’ll remember who the richest men in the world are (there were only two women there, tsk, tsk). Then I saw the news about Hillary Clinton making a comeback with her recent wins in the primaries, and I thought to myself that soon the most powerful man in the world could be a woman! So I began wondering – ‘Who are the most powerful women in the world today?’ While richest is a term you can easily quantify, in terms of millions and billions, most powerful isn’t that cut and dried. You understand that ‘most powerful’ is not an objective term and is subject to opinions and points of view.
By a long shot, and in a lot of people’s opinion Angela Merkel is the most powerful woman on earth. Forbes has bestowed this honor on her several years in a row. Nicknamed ‘The Iron Frau’ (frau means lady in German), in an obvious allusion to Margret Thatcher, she has steadfastly stood for what she believes in. For instance she was instrumental in having the G8 agree to reduce carbon emissions and then in getting the EU countries to agree on a treaty replacing the European Union Constitution.
Wu Yi is the vice premier of the People’s Republic of China is the formidable lady whom Forbes put at number 2 on their list of 2007. She replaced Condoleezza Rice who held the number two position in 2006 (Rice slipped to No. 4 in 2007).
Ho Ching is the CEO of Temasek Holdings (which is valued at over $100 billion) and the wife of the Prime Minister of Singapore. In 2007, TIME magazine named her as one of the “100 most influential men and women” who shaped the world.
Condoleezza Rice, Secretary of State, USA, slipped two places in the year 2007 and may exit the list altogether if the Republicans are voted out in the coming election. Having suffered racial discrimination while growing up, she became a powerful leader later and came to be know as the ‘Warrior Princess’ because of her strong will and note-worthy achievements.
Indra Nooyi is the Chairperson and CEO of Pepsico, one of the biggest companies in the world. Born in India, she is the person due to whom Pepsico came to adopt the “performance with purpose” approach. She pioneered Pepsico’s foray into healthy food and a diverse work force.
Sonia Gandhi, the president of the ruling party of India, does not hold any post in the government, but she wields more power than if she did, because of the importance of the Gandhi Dynasty in Indian politics and because of her intrinsic leadership qualities. Born in Italy, she married Rajiv Gandhi who later became Prime Minister of India. Some years after his assassination she assumed the mantle of Congress leader.
I was surprised Oprah did not feature in this Forbes list, especially with the power of her Book Club. She does however, feature in the top 10 most powerful women in Showbiz list. As do J.K. Rowling, Julia Roberts and Madonna. Ahead of International Women’s Day on 8 March, I think women such as these are inspiring role models for all of us, men and women alike. What do you think? And Happy Women’s day all of you: Women enjoy yourselves and Men, make sure they do!