Forbes list of most powerful women finds little room for Britons

Only the Queen and JK Rowling make cut on annual power list headed for second year by German chancellor Angela Merkel

Forbes magazine's annual list of the 100 most powerful women on the planet is long on politicians, philanthropists and entertainers, but short on influential Britons, with just the Queen and JK Rowling making this year's cut.

Leading the list for the second year running is the German chancellor, Angela Merkel, followed by the US secretary of state, Hillary Clinton, the Brazilian president, Dilma Rousseff, and Melinda Gates, co-chair of the foundation that bears her name and that of her husband, Bill.

The magazine – which refers to Merkel as the "'Iron Lady' of Europe and the lead player in the eurozone economic drama that continues to threaten global markets" — notes her embracing of the internet, green credentials and high public approval ratings in the run-up to next year's general election.

Clinton, meanwhile is praised for her commitment to her job – "this year alone she's travelled to 42 countries" – her handling of the WikiLeaks cable crisis, and her uncompromising attitude.

"In November, [Clinton] urged Syrian President Bashar Assad to hand over his power and leave his country, and recently warned North Korean leader Kim Jong Un to chart a different course than his militant father," says Forbes. The magazine said supporters were still hopeful of Clinton making a presidential bid, despite her stated determination to move out of public life at the end of the year.

Rousseff earns her place for her ambitious plans and programmes "aimed at eradicating dire poverty and increasing access to education, medical care and sanitation services to those in need by 2014". The politician, whose popularity stood at 77% two months ago, tells the magazine: "What I want my legacy to be is this country to be increasing middle class, to be highly competitive and highly educated."

Next up is Gates, who has used her money and influence to challenge the Vatican over its position on birth control.

The first lady of the US comes in seventh place on the list, below Jill Abramson, executive editor of the New York Times, and Sonia Gandhi, the longest serving president of the Indian National Congress party.

"More popular than her husband in this important election year, Michelle Obama's positive approval ratings register at 66%," says Forbes. "The first lady keeps a high profile with her mission to end childhood obesity, her commitment to military families and her stylish fashion picks."

Hovering just outside the top 10 – whose remaining spots are claimed by Christine Lagarde of the IMF, the US homeland security secretary, Janet Napolitano, and Sheryl Sandberg, chief operating officer of Facebook – is "the Queen of Media" Oprah Winfrey.

She is far from the only cultural force to find Forbes recognition: Winfrey's friend Lady Gaga occupies 14th spot, a tribute to both her $52m earnings last year and her philanthropic work.

Beyonce Knowles, "actress, entrepreneur, musician", is 18 places behind Gaga, but six places ahead of Jennifer López and eight ahead of the Colombian singer-songwriter and philanthropist Shakira.

The Queen is at No 26. "She has been commemorating her 60th diamond Jubilee anniversary with parades, parties and by making peace throughout the realm," notes Forbes. "In June she shook hands with former IRA commander Martin McGuinness during a visit to Northern Ireland that was seen as a symbol of significant easing of tensions in British-Irish relations. In lighter but similarly symbolic news the iconic clock tower of Britain's parliament building – widely, though incorrectly called Big Ben – was renamed in her honour this summer. It will be known as Elizabeth Tower."

In the final quarter of the list, occupying 78th spot, is JK Rowling, soon to publish her "first adult offering, a dark comedy titled The Casual Vacancy". The billionaire author, says Forbes, shrewdly held onto the e-book rights of her Harry Potter novels, finally publishing them through the online Pottermore store this year.

American-born Dame Marjorie Scardino, who runs Financial Times publisher Pearson, and who has British citizenship, is in the list at 86.

Moira Forbes, president and publisher of ForbesWoman, said: "These power women exert influence in very different ways and to very different ends, and all with very different impacts on the global community.

"So many of these women are in policy or political roles, and their influence ... is only growing so it's not surprising that someone like Merkel or Clinton would continue to be present on the list year to year."


Sam Jones

The GuardianTramp

Related Content

Article image
Forbes' most powerful women: Angela Merkel leads politician-heavy list

German chancellor tops list of most powerful women for third year running, while Queen drops 14 places to 40th

Alexandra Topping

23, May, 2013 @3:03 PM

Article image
Merkel tops Forbes 100 most powerful women list with Clinton close behind
The annual Forbes list includes 24 corporate CEOs, eight heads of state, one monarch – and Taylor Swift

Caroline Davies

26, May, 2015 @6:25 PM

Article image
Angela Merkel clings to top spot in Forbes 100 most powerful women list
German chancellor beats Theresa May, Melinda Gates and Sheryl Sandberg to first place, despite hit to authority in elections

Alexandra Topping

01, Nov, 2017 @1:23 PM

Article image
Forbes' most powerful women list: it's all about the money | Rhiannon Lucy Cosslett
Rhiannon Lucy Cosslett: Money is what links those on Forbes' list – the ability to earn it, control it and influence how others spend it. Is that all power is?

Rhiannon Lucy Cosslett

22, Aug, 2012 @4:27 PM

Article image
Billionaires' club has welcomed 210 new members, Forbes rich list reports
Carlos Slim, worth $73bn, Microsoft founder Bill Gates, with $67bn and Zara tycoon Amancio Ortega are world's wealthiest

Simon Bowers

04, Mar, 2013 @8:47 PM

Article image
New Statesman cover on being childless 'reinforces prejudice', says Sturgeon
Scotland’s first minister praises article on why motherhood and childlessness both cause problems for women in politics but calls cover of her by a cot ‘crass’

Rowena Mason Political correspondent

16, Jul, 2015 @2:18 PM

Article image
Margaret Thatcher tops list of most influential women

Former prime minister gets 31% of votes compared to 1% for Kate Moss in a women's role model survey

Haroon Siddique

01, Nov, 2010 @12:01 AM

Article image
What Forbes reveals about women and power | Joan Smith

Joan Smith: It is not to influential females that the Forbes list of most powerful women pays homage, but to the eternal might of money

Joan Smith

19, Aug, 2009 @10:00 PM

Article image
Saudi prince launches libel action against Forbes magazine over Rich List

Prince Alwaleed bin Talal, who owns London's Savoy hotel, claims US publication undervalued his wealth by $9.6bn. By Josh Halliday

Josh Halliday

06, Jun, 2013 @3:21 PM

Article image
Forbes celebrity 100: influential friends and world tour propel Coldplay up list
Chris Martin's band ranked number 14 on list, which is topped for fifth time by Oprah Winfrey

Haroon Siddique

26, Jun, 2013 @7:59 PM