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."

Contributor

Sam Jones

The GuardianTramp

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