The Boss Ladies: Merkel, Okonjo-Iweala, Sirleaf make Forbes Most Powerful Women List

by Stanley Azuakola

Influential magazine, Forbes, has released its annual list of 100 most powerful women in the world for 2012. Nigeria has a single representative on the list in the person of minister of Finance, Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala.

Okonjo-Iweala, who was listed as number 81, was only one of three African women who made the cut. The others are Liberia’s President, Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf, who was ranked one place below Okonjo-Iweala at 82 and President of Malawi, Joyce Banda, who was ranked ten places above the Finance minister at 71.

The list was mostly dominated by American women, who got six of the top 10 spots. However, it was German Chancellor, Angela Merkel, who sat pretty at the top for the second straight year.

The profile for Nigeria’s representative on the list, Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala read thus:

When Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala left the World Bank in 2011, where she was a managing director and the second-in-command, to become the finance minister of Nigeria, eyebrows were raised. So it was no surprise that she was on the short-list of candidates when the organization conducted an international search for a new leader this April. The top spot went to President Obama’s pick Jim Yong Kim, but many say Okonjo-Iweala was by far the most qualified candidate. This is her second stint in the ministry of finance–from 2003 to 2006 she served Nigeria under President Olusegun Obasanjo, whose administration was known for liberalizing the Nigerian economy, building close ties with the U.S. and closer ties with prominent Nigerian businessmen. Okonjo-Iweala’s main achievement was to secure a debt write-off of $18 billion from Nigeria’s creditors.

The annual list is dominated by politicians, businesswomen, and media figures.

In the top 10 this year, was U.S. secretary of State, Hillary Clinton, in second place; Brazil’s president Dilma Rousseff in third place; co-chair of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation in fourth and Jill Abramson, the executive editor of the New York Times Company, rounding up the Top 5.

Others in the Top 10 include: Sonia Gandhi, the president of the Indian National Congress (6); Michelle Obama, the first lady of the United States (7); Christine Lagarde, managing director of the IMF (8); Janet Napolitano, US Homeland secretary (9); and Sheryl Sandberg, the COO of Facebook (10).

The top three most powerful women this year are unchanged from last year. The ranking was done according to influence, amount of money they control or earn, and media presence.

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

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