Powerful women are influential in realms ranging from culture to business and politics
Roxanne De Souza, Staff Writer
For the ninth year in a row, Forbes has released a list of the most influential women in the world. These women are among the major drivers of the economic, political, and cultural landscape of our world. Beyond these individual women, the list is also indicative of the broad global trends in the year 2012.
Topping the list is German Chancellor Angela Merkel, noted for her efforts to maintain the European Union despite economic uncertainty, her support of the Kyoto Protocol to reduce carbon dioxide emissions, and high approval rating among German voters. Ranking second, Hillary Clinton is noted for her role as United States Secretary of State where she appealed to Syria’s Bashar Assad to relinquish his presidency in the wake of mass violence. Coming in third, Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff is noted for her dedication to economic and social programs, and enjoys a 77% approval rating.
The list in its entirety, which includes a wide range of vocations ranging from IT experts to entrepreneurs to celebrities, also speaks to several broader trends during the past year.
Many of these women are playing a critical role not only in closing the gender gap, but shaping the culture, politics, and business on a global scale.
- Greater Representation of Latin American and Asian Women
In addition to Dilma Rousseff’s coveted position as one of the three most powerful women in the world, Argentina’s Present Christina Fernandez de Kircher also ranked No.16. Other personalities including Colombia’s Shakira and Sofia Vergara. In Asia, rising entrepreneurs including Xin Zhang are leading the economic development of the region. Others, like Burmese dissident Aung San Suu Kyi have been noted for their political influence on a regional and global level.
- The (Slightly Unnerving) Influence of Celebrity Culture
Arguably, some of the most well-known women in popular culture have coveted position of the list, including Oprah Winfrey, Lady Gaga, and Ellen Degeneres. Other notable celebrity personalities included Beyonce, Jennifer Lopez, and Angelina Jolie, recognized for their personal success or philanthropic efforts.
- The Rise of Social Media
Facebook’s Sheryl Sandberg rank in the top 10 influential women equally illustrates the power of new media. Moreover, almost all of the women were active users of social media, including venues of online publishing, Facebook and Twitter, with a combined 90 million Twitter followers (unsurprisingly headed by celebrity personalities). Moreover, Angela Merkel’s Youtube channel has allowed her to directly engage with her electorate, suggesting that this role may become more common among politicians, economists, and entrepreneurs in the future.
Many of these women are playing a critical role not only in closing the gender gap, but shaping the culture, politics, and business on a global scale. Recognizing the overarching trends is therefore not only critical for understanding the increasing importance of women in the public sphere, but also for navigating the changing dynamics of the international system.