The World’s Most Powerful Women: Palin, Oprah, Obama and More

Forbes magazine just released its list of the world’s 100 most powerful women in the world, with females from all over the world in politics, business, media and lifestyle. So who made the cut?


Michelle Obama was not only named number 1 in politics, but also the number 1 most powerful woman overall. She is the wife of the world’s most powerful head of state, but Forbes chose her because of what she has done with her position as First Lady. She launched the Let’s Move! campaign to involve parents, schools and communities in tackling childhood obesity. She has also promoted public service by visiting soup kitchens and homeless shelters to volunteer, and dedicated time to the needs of military families. And because of her, the White House has its first organic garden.

Sheikha Lubna Al Qasimi, Minister for Economy for the United Arab Emirates, is both a princess and the first woman to hold a cabinet position in the country. Ranking in at number 70, she has shown that her power does not solely come from her royal blood, as she has successfully run an online auction company and worked as a manager for the agency that automates the Emirati government. She has also been a strong advocate for women’s rights.

A remarkable number of female heads of state made the list including: Germany’s Angela Merkel (4), Australia’s Julia Gillard (58), Finland’s Tarja Halonen (62), Ireland’s Mary McAleese (64), Argentina’s Cristina Fernandez (68), Iceland’s Johanna Sigurdardottir (80) Costa Rica’s Laura Chincilla (83), and Liberia’s Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf (86).


Irene Rosenfeld is the Chief Executive of Kraft Foods and the number 2 most powerful woman in the world, according to Forbes. She became the second-highest paid female in 2009 when she received a $26.3 million compensation package. Thanks to her decision to acquire Cadbury (an idea which Warren Buffet shot down), Kraft’s second quarter revenues shot up 25.3 percent to $12.3 billion.

Chief Executive of PepsiCo Indra Nooyi is credited with taking advantage of social media to simultaneously market Pepsi and promote social causes. The Pepsi Refresh Project lets organizations submit grant proposals and encourages people to vote online to pick the project to fund. She also allocated $1.3 million a month for causes in the U.S., most recently helping the people and their pets who lost their homes to the recent BP oil spill. She boasts a number of awards and recognitions, including 2009 CEO of the Year by Global Supply Chain Leaders Group.


Entertainers made their mark on the list, with Lady Gaga and Beyonce cracking the Top 10.

Angelina Jolie
ranks 21 with her work as an actress and as a UN Goodwill Ambassador. The Academy Award winner is one of the highest paid actresses in Hollywood, commanding $20 million per film. As a humanitarian, she has traveled to over 20 countries to visit refugees and internally displaced people. Most recently she donated $1 million to relief efforts in Haiti and $100,000 to the U.N. for the floods in Pakistan.

At number 27, Melinda Gates is co-chair of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, the largest transparently operated private foundation in the world. The foundation’s main global concerns are healthcare and poverty. Gates has advocated focusing on women to strengthen communities, contending that women are more likely to invest in their families’ health and education.


Oprah Winfrey was the highest ranked woman in media at number 3, and also appears on Forbes 400 Richest People in America and World Billionaires lists. She has earned her spot on the power list in part to her golden touch to nearly every product or person she endorses. Although her 25 year old talk show is coming to an end in 2011, she is ready to launch the Oprah Winfrey Network (OWN). One of her most recent projects is taking graduating students from her all-girls boarding school in South Africa on a college tour in the U.S. with plans to fund their higher education.

Sarah Palin, billed as a “political maverick and commentator” came in at number 16. As the most famous face of the Tea Party, she has expanded her reach on the Internet with over 2 million Facebook and 260,000 followers on Twitter. She has also made over 12,000 TV and radio appearances, and recently received a multimillion dollar contract with Fox News.

You can see the full list here. Were there any women left out? Did some not deserve their ranking? Who is your favorite?


Cassie L.
Cassie L6 years ago

P.S. It should be noted, however, that Oprah is Mensa-level compared to Sarah Palin. A smart, beautiful lady most certainly is threatening, Patricia S.- that's the point. Palin is neither, that's why some women love her. They can feel comfy and safe around her.

Cassie L.
Cassie L6 years ago

I am wondering why Oprahs Life Class has to pop up every time I log in to Care2. I think it is great that Oprah is putting her money and fame to philanthropical use, but I think its pretty annoying to be bombarded by her image. It is egotistical. It makes Care2 seem a bit crass and lowbrow, to be honest. Not that Oprah is lowbrow, necessarily, but that type of marketing is. She is going a bit Madonna on us, I fear.

Terry King
Terry King6 years ago

I'm sick of hearing about all of them.

Richard Zane Smith

this country is obsessed with celebrity status.
it'll gah-gah-swoon over anyone who is famous for being well known.
"ranking" people like this is really counter productive.
its the quiet nurturing grandmothers everywhere who are the backbone,
not the glittered,silicone fixed,and plastic-pretty smiles of TV.

Patricia S.
Pat S7 years ago

We just can't get over the hundreds of thousands of you who are ever so jealous of Sarah Palin! It's really laughable. A beautiful and smart lady is pretty scary, I guess.

Pratik Mehta
Pratik Mehta7 years ago


Nicole W.
Nicole W7 years ago

I'm disappointed, where is J.K Rowling? Now that's a powerful woman!

jane richmond
jane richmond7 years ago

Thanks for the list even though I question some of the people on it.

Theresa C.
Theresa C7 years ago


Angelica P.
Angelica P7 years ago