Since the adoption of the CEDAW treaty by the United Nations, women across the world have battled irrational prejudice, all while making countless advances in society.
More women now hold power in politics, continuing their fight for the abolishment of gender oppression and disaccord. General movements such as #MeToo and Time’s Up have shaped modern history, allocating us much closer now towards the extirpation of such discriminatory beliefs.
In 2020 and beyond, women will continue to uphold great power. It is apparent that gender equality and feminist movements may no longer be necessary for the not too distant future.
In this excerpt, we methodically took into consideration several factors in determining the rank of the following public figures. Social-cultural influence, media mentions, digital impact, and monetary assets, are all contributing factors in our list of the world’s most powerful women, compiled in Q3 2020.
In essence, here are the 30 most powerful women in the world.
30. Mika Brzezinski
Occupation: Journalist, Television Personality
In 2001, Mika Brzezinski’s Ground Zero reporting of the infamous September 11 attacks led to the nation’s first glimpse at what would be a future household personality in cable news. Having been in the news landscape during three presidential administrations in the U.S., Brzezinski has been implicated in numerous political scandals, all while co-running one of NBC’s most notable television programs.
30 years into her career now, Brzezinski is one of the most recognized faces in all of American journalism. With a tremendous rise in prestige as MSNBC’s top talk show host, she is also the author of a few best-selling books, which has delved into wage equality.
29. Margarita Simonyan
Occupation: Journalist, Editor-in-Chief of RT
The unprecedented upbringing of a 25-year-old journalist began just several years after the collapse of the Soviet Union. Appointed editor-in-chief of an international television network at an early age, Margarita Simonyan, born to an Armenian family, now leads what is Russia’s premier news brand in the Western world.
From reporting on the frontlines during the massacring of hundreds of children by Islamic militants to depicting Russia’s opinion in the world stage. Simonyan is one of the most powerful and widely criticized journalists in the Russian Federation.
28. Kim Yo-jong
Nationality: North Korean
Kim Yo-jong was born in the late-1980s in Pyongyang, the country’s capital. Having been raised alongside her two elder brothers, and studying abroad in one of Switzerland’s most populous-cities, Yo-jong’s pivotal transition in life occurred when joining the National Defense Commission. She now serves the role of vice director of the United Front Department of the Workers’ Party of Korea.
As of 2020, key appointees during the Kim Jong-il regime have stepped down in favor of younger officials capable of leading a country once founded by Kim Il-sung. Yo-jong‘s facade in local and foreign media has led to speculation of the nation’s first female successor. She currently sways as the most powerful woman in North Korea.
27. Sanna Marin
Occupation: Prime Minister of Finland
Elected to the City Council in the 2012 Finnish municipal elections, Sanna Marin leads the social-democratic political party in what the UN labels as the happiest country on the globe. Marin is the youngest elected Prime Minister in the world, appointed as leader of the Finnish Government at the age of 34.
Since her time as PM, Marin has received both praise and repugnant remarks, with the Estonian interior minister mocking her capacity to lead the European nation of Finland.
26. Katie Couric
Inducted into the Television Hall of Fame in 2004, Katherine Couric has undertaken important roles since the 80s. She has appeared as a television host for NBC, CBS, and ABC News, having interviewed and reported about several sitting U.S. presidents during their time in office.
Aside from journalism, Couric has advocated and participated in numerous health campaigns and charitable tasks. Near the time of her father’s death, Couric headed the Parkinson’s Foundation, becoming the Honorary National Chair for a campaign directed at combating those affected by neurodegenerative diseases. She also sits as a member of the Council on Foreign Relations.
25. Yelena Baturina
Occupation: Former founder of Inteko
Listed on Forbes as Russia’s wealthiest woman, Elena Baturina previously founded a construction company known as Inteko. The Russian real estate-mogul became prominent after her marriage with Yury Luzhkov, the mayor of Moscow throughout the 1990s and 2000s.
Baturina resides in the English City of London, with properties and investments in Austria, the U.S., and Europe.
24. Lisa Su
Occupation: CEO & President of AMD
As a graduate of the prestigious Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Taiwanese electrical engineer Lisa Tzwu-Fang Su is renowned for her work on silicon-on-insulator semiconductor manufacturing technologies.
Having received a number of awards and accolades, Su currently serves as the CEO and president of Advanced Micro Devices, an American-based company known for its computer processors. In 2019 she was named the ‘World’s Best CEO’ by the news publication Barron’s.
23. Fatou Bensouda
Occupation: Chief Prosecutor of the ICC
Since leading the ICC, Bensouda has ruled over many crucial investigations into war crimes and human rights abuses committed on the world stage. In 2020, the ICC reportedly received threats from high-ranking government officials in the U.S. in regard to their probing of crimes against humanity during the War in Afghanistan. The allegations include a series of brutal physical and sexual torture by numerous U.S. military and intelligence officials.
22. Magdalena Skipper
Occupation: Geneticist, Editor-in-Chief of the journal Nature
A graduate of the University of Cambridge, with a specialization in genetics, Magdalena Skipper completed her Ph.D. in 1998 before joining the scientific journal Nature, just a few years later.
Throughout the 2000s, Skipper was appointed and promoted to key roles in the British-based journal. In 2018, she reached a historic milestone, becoming the first woman to serve as editor-in-chief of the world’s most prolific scientific publication Nature.
21. Kamala Harris
Kamala Harris was raised by a Tamil-American mother who briefly brought science to renowned advancements in breast biology and oncology. Throughout the late-1990s and 2000s, many could not have predicted the rise of the country’s first Indian-American in the upper chamber of the United States Congress.
Since her successful election to represent the State of California in 2016, Harris has also become one of the most important African-American voices of the Democratic Party. In late-2020, she will seek the role of Vice President of the United States.
20. Oprah Winfrey
Occupation: Entertainer, Media Executive
An American icon in television, film, and online media, Oprah Winfrey is known for the hosting of critically-acclaimed sit-downs with celebrities. In the 2000s, Winfrey’s influence helped pave the way for America’s first sitting African-American president.
In 2020, Winfrey is dubbed as one of the wealthiest women, becoming the first black multi-billionaire in the United States. She is also one of the most powerful women in the world, currently serving as CEO of her own cable television brand known as the Oprah Winfrey Network.
19. Meg Whitman
Occupation: CEO of Quibi, Board Member of P&G and Dropbox
Meg Whitman worked in a variety of roles starting in the late-1970s. She joined the e-commerce giant eBay during its early phases, becoming CEO at a time when the digital landscape was just evolving. In the early-2010s, Whitman joined the board of directors and then became CEO at Hewlett-Packard, before serving her current role as CEO at the video-streaming platform Quibi.
Throughout her early active years as a business executive, Whitman has also delved into politics, having run for Governor of California in 2010. She is currently one of the most powerful female billionaires in the United States.
18. Amina J. Mohammed
Occupation: Deputy Secretary-General of the United Nations
Working under the guidance of António Guterres, the former prime minister of Portugal, Amina Mohammed is the fifth Deputy Secretary-General of the United Nations. Mohammed is a graduate of Henley Business School at the University of Reading.
Mohammed is one of the most influential public figures originating from the Federal Republic of Nigeria. Since her upbringing as deputy chief of the world’s largest intergovernmental organization, she has been the subject of numerous honors, including the acquisition of Queen in West Africa.
17. Abigail Johnson
Occupation: President & CEO of Fidelity Investments
Often regarded as one of the most influential women in finance, Abigail Johnson took over for her father in 2014, serving as CEO of the American-based firm Fidelity Investments. She received her undergraduate degree from William Smith College and her MBA from Harvard Business School.
As of 2020, Johnson is the wealthiest individual in the U.S. state of Massachusetts and has ranked on Forbes for several consecutive years as one of the richest women in the world. She is also the first woman to be appointed on the board of the Financial Services Forum.
16. Kristalina Georgieva
Occupation: Chairwoman and Managing Director of the IMF
Born in Bulgaria, Kristalina Georgieva began at the World Bank Group as an environmental economist, transitioning to Chief Executive and then Acting President of the World Bank Group, decades later.
In 2019, Georgieva was named Chairwoman and Managing Director of the International Monetary Fund.
15. Susan Wojcicki
Occupation: CEO of YouTube
Becoming involved in the early birth of the American technology giant Google, Susan Wojcicki went on to help develop several vital services on the platform including Google Images, Google Books, and AdSense.
By the time Google entered the online video-sharing market, Wojcicki landed one of the most important acquisitions on the web, with the purchase of YouTube in 2006. Several years later, in 2014, Wojcicki was appointed CEO of the video-sharing platform.
14. Mary Barra
Occupation: CEO of General Motors Company
Barra started her career at General Motors from an early age. By the age of 53, Barra became chairman and CEO of General Motors Company, a first for a woman within a major automaker. She was also appointed to the board at the Walt Disney Company in mid-2017.
Since her uprising as CEO at General Motors, Barra has been listed in numerous publications, including Forbes, Time, and Fortune, as one of the world’s most influential women.
13. Margrethe II
Occupation: Queen of Denmark, Crown Ruler
Ascending to the Danish throne, Margrethe Alexandrine Thorhildur Ingrid, or Margrethe II, has been the reigning monarch since 1972.
As the commander-in-chief of the Danish Defense and the top authority of the Church of Denmark, Margrethe’s role is to represent the kingdom and incorporate stability, peace, and unification to the people.
12. Safra Catz
Occupation: CEO of Oracle Corporation
A graduate at the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania, Safra Catz transitioned from an investment banker into one of the world’s most influential women in the tech industry.
After joining the Oracle Corporation in mid-1999, Catz rose to become its CEO, becoming one of the wealthiest women in America. She also currently serves on the board of directors at the Walt Disney Company.
11. Ginni Rometty
Occupation: Executive Chairman of IBM
Since her tenure as CEO, Rometty has been met with both praise and criticism from industry experts. She is currently the executive chairman of IBM.
10. Melinda Gates
Melinda Gates, a fellow Texan from Dallas, is the daughter of an aerospace engineer and a homemaker. As an adolescent, Gates learned computer programming, a skill that would eventually lead her to the development of several landmark projects with Microsoft.
As of 2020, Gates is the co-founder of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, a charitable organization started alongside her husband Bill. She has served on the board of directors at the Washington Post.
9. Mackenzie Scott
Occupation: Venture Philanthropist
Formerly married to Jeffrey Bezos, the richest cent-billionaire in modern history, Mackenzie Scott became one of the wealthiest people in the world following a divorce settlement. In Q3 2020, a stock surge helped rank Scott as perhaps the richest woman in the world, surpassing Françoise Bettencourt Meyers.
Aside from her association with the Washington-based tech giant Amazon, Scott is also an award-winning author and a leading executive of an anti-bullying organization known as Bystander Revolution. The organization includes a long roster of contributors such as athletes, entertainers, authors, and health experts.
8. Sheryl Sandberg
Occupation: COO of Facebook
Amid an array of legal scandals implicating Facebook throughout its early years, Sheryl Sandberg transformed the social networking giant into a profitable advertising platform. By 2016, Facebook became one of the Big Five, regarded as the world’s five most valuable tech companies.
7. Zhang Xin
Occupation: CEO of SOHO China
Zhang Xin co-founded the Chinese real estate firm SOHO China in 1995, currently serving as the company’s CEO. Amid the completion of the firm’s earliest projects, Xin has been labeled as the woman who built Beijing, referencing to her many landmark real-estate developments in China’s capital and Shanghai.
Xin is one of the wealthiest female billionaires in the world. She also sits as a member of the Council on Foreign Relations.
6. Christine Lagarde
Occupation: President of the European Central Bank
Born in the most populous city of France, Christine Lagarde was nominated by the European Council and became the first woman to serve as the President of the European Central Bank. She previously served as chairwoman and managing director of the International Monetary Fund. In the early stages of her life span, Lagarde interned at the U.S. Capitol during the Watergate hearings.
In 2019, the Atlantic Council recognized Lagarde with the Distinguished International Leadership Award; she was also listed as the second most powerful woman in the world by Forbes.
5. Nancy Pelosi
Occupation: Speaker of the United States House of Representatives
Elected as Speaker of the United States House of Representatives, Nancy Pelosi became the first woman to hold the capacity in 2007. The Baltimore-born congresswoman, now serving a second term as Speaker, is a pioneer of modern liberalism in the United States and is the face of the Democratic Party.
In 2015, Pelosi was honored with the Order of the Rising Sun established by Japanese Emperor Meiji. As of 2020, Pelosi is the single most powerful woman in America and one of the most important Western political figures in modern history.
4. Marillyn Hewson
Occupation: Chairman of Lockheed Martin
Marillyn Hewson is the chairman of Lockheed Martin, a US-based aerospace and military defense company.
Regarded as the world’s largest defense contractor, Hewson oversees operations associated with the National Aeronautics and Space Administration, U.S. Space Force, U.S. Department of Defense, U.S. Department of Energy, the Environmental Protection Agency, the National Security Agency, the Internal Revenue Service, and the Pentagon, among other governmental agencies.
3. Ursula von der Leyen
Occupation: President of the European Commission
Ursula von der Leyen, married to a member of the von der Leyen noble family, was originally proposed by the European Council to be President of the European Commission. In 2019, she was elected as the commission’s first female president.
Von der Leyen obtained the title Doctor of Medicine in 1991, with her work available in several publications. In 2017, she was honored with the Grand Cross of the Order for Merits to Lithuania recognition.
2. Queen Elizabeth II
Occupation: Queen of the United Kingdom, Crown Ruler of 15 Other Commonwealth Realms
Elizabeth II, commonly referred to as ‘Her Majesty The Queen,’ is the longest-reigning monarch in modern history, surpassing Queen Victoria, George III, and James VI. She is the head of state and monarch of the United Kingdom, in addition to more than a dozen other Commonwealth realms, including Australia, Canada, New Zealand, South Africa, Jamaica, the Bahamas, and Pakistan.
Since her coronation in 1953, the Queen has faced an array of controversies, including the Duke of Sussex’s 2005 support of the Nazi regime, Britain’s withdrawal from the European Union, and allegations of the Duke of York‘s participation in the raping and trafficking of children.
1. Angela Merkel
Occupation: Scientist, Chancellor of Germany
In 2005, Angela Merkel was elected Chancellor of Germany, becoming the country’s first woman elected for the role. As a politician of impeccable integrity, Merkel was also appointed President of the European Council.
Since her upbringing, she has brought global stability and improved transatlantic economic relations in the Western hemisphere, becoming the face of the European Union. Merkel is one of the most important public figures in modern world history.