Who runs the world? Girls! The 21st-century women are establishing their own presence in almost every field from the boardroom to the House of Representatives. The wage gap may still exist between men and women in 2020 and even more so between various ethnic groups, but women are now more influential than ever with campaigns such as #MeToo and Time’s Up maintain momentum and more women participating in politics than ever before. This blog brings you the world’s 10 most powerful women of 2020!
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“Women are leaders everywhere you look – from the CEO who runs a Fortune 500 company to the housewife who raises her children and heads her household. Our country was built by strong women and we will continue to break down walls and defy stereotypes.”
The speaker of the United States House of Representatives took her first step in politics in 1987 when she won California’s eight congressional district election. She was chosen as the Democratic Leader of the House of Representatives in the year 2002. When the Democrats gained control of the House as well as the Senate, Nancy Pelosi was appointed as the speaker of the house in 2006. An inspiration to many around the world, Pelosi was very vocal in criticism of Trump’s regime and supported his impeachment. Establishing her strong place in the US House of Representatives and becoming a role model for many women, she tops our list of 10 most powerful women of 2020!
“I shouldn’t be up here. I should be back in school on the other side of the ocean. Yet, you all come to us young people for hope. How dare you? You have stolen my dreams and my childhood with your empty words. Yet, I am one of the lucky ones. People are suffering.”
Next on the list of powerful women of 2020 is Greta Thunberg, this 17 – year old created a huge impact on the entire world with her powerful speech on global warming and climate change. She forced everyone around the world to stop and think about the damage being done to the environment. Her ‘How dare you’ speech left an impression on everyone’s mind, all world leaders were forced to contemplate their decisions. Since then, Greta has been a part of the global protests on climate change and fiercely taken up the stage to address this need of the hour!
“What I want young women and girls to know is: You are powerful and your voice matters.
You’re going to walk into many rooms in your life and career where you may be the only one who looks like you or who has had the experiences you’ve had. But you remember that when you are in those rooms, you are not alone. We are all in that room with you applauding you on. Cheering your voice. And just so proud of you. So you use that voice and be strong.”
The first-ever female President-Elect of the United States, Kamala Harris needs no introduction as she shattered the glass ceiling and won the 2021 US Presidential Election with Joe Biden bringing a shining light on the power of women! Born and brought up in Oakland to immigrant parents, Harris’ brought a way of hope and glory to women especially with her incredible speech on winning the election with Joe Biden as she remembered her late mother’s words “you may be the first, but make sure you won’t be the last.”. She was also the first Indian-American woman to get elected to the United States Senate.
“No matter how senior you get in an organization, no matter how well you’re perceived to be doing, your job is never done. Every day, you get up and the world is changing; your customers are expecting more from you.”
The list for powerful women is incomplete without mentioning the CEO of Fidelity Investments. Abigail Johnson became the chairman in 2016 succeeding her father. It was her grandfather who formed this mutual fund giant in 1946 and Abigail holds 24.5% stake in the firm and has managed over $2.9 trillion assets. She was also a pioneer in accepting cryptocurrencies in the year 2018.
“To me, leadership is not about necessarily being the loudest in the room, but instead being the bridge, or the thing that is missing in the discussion and trying to build a consensus from there.”
One of the world’s favourite women leaders and amongst the powerful women of 2020, Jacinda Ardern became the 40th Prime Minister of New Zealand in 2017 and her country’s youngest leader as well as the youngest woman in the government who became PM at the age of 38. Her powerful leadership is evident from how amazingly she tackled the global pandemic as New Zealand eliminated the virus in both the waves becoming the earliest country to efficiently handle the Covid-19 pandemic!
“Turn your wounds into wisdom.”
No list of powerful women is complete without Oprah Winfrey who is a well-known name in the television industry. She is famous for her talk show ‘The Oprah Winfrey Show’ which aired from 1986 to 2011. Oprah is the first black woman billionaire and philanthropist, she has done a lot of work for women, focusing on education for girls. Oprah’s Angel Network has been able to raise over $50 million for charity. Oprah has also been part of various Hollywood films like ‘The Butler’, ‘Beloved’ and ‘The Color Purple’.
“We talk about existential threats, the last time we had a really major existential threat to this country was around World War II, and so we’ve been here before and we have a blueprint of doing this before.”
Famously known as AOC, Cortez created tremors in the political world when she got elected to the Congress in 2018 defeating the New York Democrat Joe Crowley. She is the youngest woman ever to be elected to the Congress and thus features in our list of most powerful women of 2020. Ocasio-Cortez has spoken out on major topics such as abortion and border protection, as well as cybersecurity and climate change during her tenure as a Congresswoman.
“Just be true to yourself, and listen as much as one is able to to other people whose opinions you respect and look up to but in the end it has to come from you.”
With her signature bob hairstyle and sunglasses, Anna Wintour may be iconic, but she is also one of the most prominent and powerful women in the global fashion industry. She became the Editor-in-Chief of Condé Nast-owned British Vogue in 1987. Also, she took over as editor of American Vogue just a year later, revitalising the publication and totally changing the approach of the entire industry. A fictionalised account of her days at Vogue was written by one of Wintour’s former assistants; which was eventually adapted into the movie “The Devil Wears Prada,”
“I have a theory that women are generally given space and appointed to jobs when the situation is tough.”
This powerful woman needs no introduction, Christine Lagarde is a lawyer and politician from France. She was the first woman, from 2007 to 2011, to serve as France’s finance minister. Later, from 2011 to 2019, she became the Managing Director of the International Monetary Fund and now serves as the Head of the European Central Bank. Lagarde features in our list of most powerful women of 2020 because she is the first female head of the European Central Bank and was also the first woman Finance Minister of Finance!
“Look forward to the future and look forward to the unknown. Nothing stays the same and people change. One day that hurt and pain will be a distant memory.”
Another renowned name on the list of powerful women for 2020 has to be Angela Merkel, she is one of the most prominent female leaders in the world. She joined politics in 1989 after the fall of the Berlin Wall. She became a part of Christian Democratic Union and soon served as a minister of youth in the cabinet of Helmut Kohl women who was the chancellor of Germany from the year 1982 to 1998. She is the first female chancellor of Germany and paved the way for many women aspiring to shine in politics!
“All women, everywhere, have the same hopes: we want to be self-sufficient and create better lives for ourselves and our loved ones.”
Melinda Gates, the wife of Microsoft co-founder and billionaire Bill Gates, is a leader in her own right. In 1987, she began working at Microsoft as a product manager. She headed the operations of Expedia, a budget-friendly travel tool during her tenure at the company. In 2012, Melinda contributed a whopping $560 million to campaigns in developing countries to expand women’s access to contraceptives. In 2015, President Barack Obama awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom to both Bill and Melinda Gates for their philanthropic work.
“Taking initiative pays off. It is hard to visualize someone as a leader if she is always waiting to be told what to do.”
Another essential mention in our list of Most Powerful Women of 2020, Sandberg is an inspiration for every girl who wants to make it big in the corporate world. She worked as Google’s vice-president of global online sales before moving to Facebook in 2008. Facebook’s fate changed under the leadership of Sandberg, she increased their profits to $22.1 billion in 2018. This powerful woman became the first female member of the company’s board of directors in 2012. In 2014, because of her high stake in Facebook, Sandberg ended up on Forbes’ billionaire list. Her current net worth amounts to 1.7 billion dollars.
“Audiences are hungry for new faces and new voices… My goal is to reflect the culture as I see it.”
As women are shining ahead in every arena, there are many inspirational female personalities making their mark in the entertainment industry! Radhika Jones took over Vanity Fair in 2017, succeeding their editor for 25 years Graydon Carter. By steering away from glamorous, stylized covers and towards celebrities in a subdued style, she made Vanity Fair all her own. Some of the most loved features on Vanity Fair include Idris Elba in a T-shirt and a leather jacket, Kendrick Lamar in a hoodie, and Michelle Williams in a conservative sweater.
These were the most powerful women of the year 2020, but this list is not exhaustive, there are so many other women who inspire us every day. Every woman is a warrior and has the ultimate power to make her name in any field she wants! Keep watching this space at Leverage Edu as we bring you more interesting and exclusive reads looking back at the year that was 2020!