The world’s 100 most powerful women

Published 10 years ago
The world’s 100 most powerful women

Our annual snapshot of the 100 women with the most impact are top politicians and CEOs, activist billionaires and celebrities who matter. In roughly equal measure you’ll find next gen entrepreneurs and media mavens, technologists and leaders in philanthropy – all ranked by dollars, media momentum and impact.

We’ve selected women that go beyond the traditional taxonomy of the power elite (political and economic might). These change-agents are actually shifting our very idea of clout and authority and, in the process, transforming the world in fresh and exhilarating ways.

This year the list features nine heads of state who run nations with a combined GDP of $11.8 trillion –including the No. 1 Power Woman, German Chancellor Angela Merkel. The 24 corporate CEOs control $893 billion in annual revenues, and 16 of the women here founded their own companies, including two of the three new billionaires to the list, Tory Burch and Spanx’s Sara Blakely. Speaking of, this year’s class has 14 billionaires valued in excess of $82 billion.


Here, a quick peek at Power Women 2013:

Newcomers: Among the 15 newcomers on this year’s list are South Korean President Park Geun-hye (No. 11); Lockheed Martin LMT +0.52% CEO Marillyn Hewson (No. 34); CEO Tory Burch (No. 69);  Spanx founder Sara Blakely (No. 90) and Baidu BIDU -1.28% CFO Jennifer Li (No. 98).

Old friends: At this 10th edition, attention must be paid to the 15 who appeared on the inaugural list in 2004 and are still here today:  Oprah Winfrey(No. 13), of course. Ditto for Hillary Clinton (No. 5). But there’s also  Christine Lagarde (No. 7),  Sonia Gandhi (No. 9), Indra Nooyi (No. 10), Helen Clark(No. 21), Nancy Pelosi (No. 22), Anne Sweeney (No. 24), Amy Pascal (No. 36), Queen Elizabeth II (No. 40), Abigail Johnson (No. 60),  Ho Ching (No. 64),Diane Sawyer (No. 73), J.K. Rowling (No. 93) andGreta Van Susteren (No. 97).

She’s No. 1: Chancellor Merkel has made the list eight times out of the past 10 years – seven times as No. 1.


She’s the first: Forty percent  of the women on the list are “female firsts,” such as African head of state (Liberia’s Ellen Johnson Sirleaf), billionaire to sign The Giving Pledge (Sara Blakeley), and CEO at IBM (Ginni Rometty). Even more impressive are a the women who are multiple “firsts”, such as Judith Rodin, first president of an Ivy League and of the Rockefeller Foundation  and Hillary Clinton.

Hillary stays on: Clinton’s CV is chock full of firsts: The only first lady to become a U.S. senator turned viable presidential candidate turned secretary of state. Now a private citizen, she continues to be one of the most watched and listened-to women on the planet. All bets on that she will be the 2016 Democratic presidential candidate and the free world’s presumptive next leader. She’s done little to quiet the chatter, including hitting the speaking circuit last month at an estimated $200,000 fee per event and inking a reported $14 million book deal.

Tech takes a second turn as a category on the Power Women list. Five tech women made the top 25 this year, including Facebook’s Sheryl Sandberg (No. 6), Rometty (No. 12) and HP’s Meg Whitman (No. 15). There are 16 tech women in total, including also Susan Wojcicki, SVP of ads at Google (No. 30) and Sun Yafang, chair of Huawei Technologies (No. 77).


in South Africa. Joining the efforts of the U.N. are Angelina Jolie (No. 37), Shakira (No. 52), and Gisele Bundchen (No. 95). Beyonce (No. 17) rules the House of Dereon and Sofia Vergara (No. 38) co-owns LatinWE.

Businesswomen are booming in Asia: The whole region makes a strong showing, from China and Singapore to New Zealand and Thailand. Entrepreneurship is on the rise: see Zhang Xin (No. 50), The rising tide of female entrepreneurs:

A remarkable number of women are founders or owners of their own enterprises, not a few of whose eponymous companies are synonymous with high fashion. Consider Miuccia Prada (No. 58), Zara founder Rosalia Mera (No. 66), Tory Burch (No. 69) andDiane von Furstenberg (No. 74). Other self-made self-starters include Oprah Winfrey (No. 13), Arianna Huffington (No. 56), Chinese real estate tycoonZhang Xin (No. 50), and Kiran Mazumdar-Shaw, India’s first biotech entrepreneur (No. 85).


The new celebrity role models: Sure, they’re famous but they deserve special attention for their outside work, be it ambassadors for meaningful causes or as business owners.

Oprah founded both Harpo Productions and The Oprah Winfrey Leadership Academy for Girls Sun Yafang (No. 77) and Solina Chau (No. 80). And Asian region women are showing their political might, from newcomer Park Geun-hye, the South Korean president (No. 11) and Burmese dissident and parliamentarian Aung San Suu Kyi (No. 29) to Australian PM Julia Gillard (No. 28) and Thai Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra (No. 31).

Healing, feeding and educating the world: If they’re not topping corporations or state, the women on our list are heads of major nonprofits and NGOs and they wield as large budgets and impact millions, from Melinda Gates (No. 3) and IMF chief Christine Lagarde (No. 7) to Director-General of World Health Organization Margaret Chan (No. 33), World Food ProgrammeExecutive Director Ertharin Cousin (No. 49) and Harvard University’s Drew Gilpin Faust (No. 43).


Joyce Banda

Malawi’s first female president (and second on the African continent) spent her initial year in office pushing for rapprochement with the international donor community while grappling with spiraling inflation and an angry populace at home. With foreign aid accounting for nearly 40% of Malawi’s revenue, Banda urged global financial institutions to restore the dollars and Euros frozen during the autocratic regime of her predecessor. But her decision to devalue Malawi’s currency by 50% – to meet IMF conditions – has resulted in soaring costs for food and fuel and widespread protests. Her first 12 months were also marked by progress in decriminalizing homosexuality and major public health initiatives such as the $15 billion Global Fund to Fight Aids, TB and Malaria.


Sri Mulyani Indrawati

When Sri Mulyani Indrawati addressed the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) in April, the Indonesian economist shared a curious insight: while high-income countries continue to suffer in the wake of the financial crisis, developing countries have come out relatively unscathed. The World Bank projects average global GDP growth of just 2.5% in 2013. Indrawati has served as managing director and the most senior woman at the World Bank since May 2010; as managing director, she oversees the World Bank’s operations in Asia and Africa, Europe, Latin America and the Middle East. After a series of deadly accidents in Bangladesh, the World Bank and the International Labor Organization have put pressure on the country to overhaul its labor laws.


Liyuan Peng

China’s most public first lady since Madame Mao, Peng is the stylish second wife of new leader Xi Jinping. She toured with her husband during Xi’s first presidential trip abroad to Russia and Africa in March and was credited with putting a human face on the Communist regime; not for nothing, Peng is a member of the Public Diplomacy Association, an organized tasked to make China more appealing abroad. The former superstar folk singer is often joked about for being more famous than her husband: “Who is Xi Jinping? He is Peng Liyuan’s husband.” Fashion editors watch her for her (mostly) made-in-China style, but she’s also a U.N. ambassador for health and a Goodwill Ambassador for the World Health Organization focusing on TB and HIV/AIDS.


Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala

One year in office after a failed bid to for the World Bank presidency, Nigeria’s Harvard-educated finance minister produced a 6.5% increase in GDP from 2011 to 2012. Nigeria is the third largest economy in Africa with nearly $50 billion in foreign reserves.


Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf

Johnson-Sirleaf is an African icon. She is the  continent’s first female head of state, a 2011 Nobel Prize winner for her work  n the global women’s empowerment circuit.