The most powerful women in development

Angela Merkel, Dilma Rousseff, Hillary Clinton and Melinda Gates are among the 11 most powerful women in the world, according to Forbes magazine.

They are not just a sea of CEOs, celebrities and entrepreneurs. Development professionals, philanthropists, U.N. ambassadors and women’s rights advocates also top this year’s Forbes’ 100 Most Powerful Women in the world.

The usual suspects are there, including U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton (2) and International Monetary Fund Managing Director Christine Lagarde (8), both of whom were also in Time’s 100 Most Influential People. Below are a few of the women in development who made the list:

  • Dilma Rousseff, Brazil’s first female president. She recently announced a multibillion-dollar investment package to boost the fast-emerging nation’s infrastructure.

  • Melinda Gates, co-chair of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and staunch advocate of family planning for women.

  • Oprah Winfrey, celebrated host and founder of a leadership academy for girls in South Africa.

  • Aung San Suu Kyi, Myanmar’s democracy leader and a Nobel Peace laureate.

  • Helen Clark, head of the U.N. Development Program since 2009. She is a former New Zealand prime minister.

  • Margaret Chan, director-general of the World Health Organization, now serving her second term.

  • Shakira, UNICEF ambassador and founder of Barefoot Foundation, a nonprofit promoting universal education.

  • Helene Gayle, CEO of Care USA, a nongovernmental organization focused on poverty alleviation.

  • Angelina Jolie, U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees special envoy and co-founder of the Jolie-Pitt Foundation.

  • Ertharin Cousin, U.N. World Food Program executive director.

  • Joyce Banda, women’s rights champion and president of Malawi.

  • Sri Mulyani Indrawati, managing director of the World Bank.

  • Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, Nigerian minister of finance and former World Bank managing director.

  • Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf, Liberian president and Nobel Peace Prize laureate.

  • Gisele Bundchen, U.N. Environment Program ambassador.

  • Judith Rodin, president of philanthropic organization Rockefeller Foundation.

The list above is only a snapshot of the many women driving development around the world. Do you agree with Forbes’ ranking? Know anyone from the aid community who should have been included? Let us know by leaving a comment below.

Read more development aid news online, and subscribe to The Development Newswire to receive top international development headlines from the world’s leading donors, news sources and opinion leaders — emailed to you FREE every business day.

You have 2 free articles left
Log in or sign-up to unlock all of the free news on Devex.

About the author

  • Ravelo jennylei

    Jenny Lei Ravelo

    Jenny Lei Ravelo is a Devex Senior Reporter based in Manila. She covers global health, with a particular focus on the World Health Organization, and other development and humanitarian aid trends in Asia Pacific. Prior to Devex, she wrote for ABS-CBN, one of the largest broadcasting networks in the Philippines, and was a copy editor for various international scientific journals. She received her journalism degree from the University of Santo Tomas.