(CBS News) – Forbes magazine released its list of the world’s 100 most powerful women on Thursday, honoring those in top leadership positions in business, philanthropy, media and politics.
According to Forbes Executive Vice President Moira Forbes, “This year’s list of World’s Most Powerful Women is a collection of innovators and instigators who are leading on the world stage to redefine traditional power structures.”
“Their accomplishments are formidable on their own, and even more so given how difficult it can be to establish inroads into industries and job titles long-dominated by men,” she added. “These trailblazers are not to be messed with.”
Newcomers on this year’s list include 16-year-old climate activist Greta Thunberg, who was also just named Time’s 2019 Person of the Year. She clocks in at No. 100. Actress and entrepreneur Reese Witherspoon (new to the list at No. 90) and writer/producer/director Ava DuVernay (No. 79) are recognized for their power in the entertainment world, joining the likes of Oprah Winfrey, who returns this year at No. 20.
Here is a look at the top 5 most powerful women in the world in 2019, according to Forbes:
1. Angela Merkel, Chancellor of Germany
The top-ranked woman for the ninth year in a row is German Chancellor Angela Merkel. She was elected as the first female chancellor of Germany in 2005 and is currently serving her fourth term.
Merkel has fought against anti-immigrant sentiment in Europe, achieved pulling Germany out of a financial crisis and continues to lead Europe’s largest economy.
Angela Merkel remains the only female commander-in-chief of a G20 nation, with women today representing just 5% of government heads.
2. Christine Lagarde, European Central Bank President
Christine Lagarde, from France, was the first woman to be elected as head of the European Central Bank in 2019. She is in charge of all European monetary policies at a time of uncertainty and slowing economic growth in the region.
Lagarde was also the first woman in charge of the International Monetary Fund, an international organization that aims to promote global economic growth, which she led for the last decade.
As a youth, she was a member of France’s national team for synchronized swimming and won a bronze medal in the country’s national championships.
3. Nancy Pelosi, Speaker of the U.S House of Representatives
As Speaker of the U.S House of Representatives, Nancy Pelosi is the highest-ranking elected woman in the country. She also held that role from 2007 to 2011.
The 79-year-old is second in line for the presidency and the first woman to hold the speakership in American history.
As the top House Democrat, Pelosi has launched the fourth-ever impeachment proceeding in U.S history against President Donald Trump.
4. Ursula von der Leyen, European Commission President
Also from Germany, von der Leyen was appointed as the first female president of the European Commission in 2019, a role that oversees legislation for more than 700 million Europeans.
She also served in Angela Merkel’s cabinet for 14 years, six of which as defense minister of Germany.
Von der Leyen is currently working on making the EU the world’s “first climate-neutral continent.”
5. Mary Barra, General Motors CEO
The second American woman in the top 5 has served as GM‘s CEO since 2014 and has invested billions into the future of green transportation.
Forbes points out that GM is ranked No. 1 on the 2018 Global Report on Gender Equality, and is one of the only major companies to not have gender pay gap.
Barra earned $21.9 million in 2018, according to Forbes, making her the highest-earning leader of Detroit’s Big Three automakers.
Other notable names
Next on the list, just missing the top 5, is Melinda Gates, who along with her husband, Microsoft founder Bill Gates, presides over the world’s largest private charitable foundation. “She’s increasingly visible in shaping foundation strategy, solving tough global challenges from education and poverty to contraception and sanitation,” Forbes wrote.
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