World

International Women’s Day: Most Influential Women From The Most Influential Countries

(Photo by Daniel Pockett/Getty Images)

Jacob Orgel Contributor

Friday, March 8, is International Women’s Day, marking another installment of the occasion dedicated to the celebration of progress toward gender equality and identification of the work that still needs to be done.

With more women in positions of power and leading global industries than ever before, we are celebrating by taking a look at some of the most influential women from the world’s ten most influential countries, according to U.S. News and World Report.

Check out our list, and read on for individual profiles below.

The United States of America

Marry Barra

The chairwoman and CEO of General Motors, Mary Barra is the first female CEO of a major global automobile manufacturer. She has taken the company into the future with a directive toward technological advancements, particularly driverless cars.

Ivanka Trump

A fashion designer, businesswoman, and now presidential advisor, Ivanka’s world influence goes well beyond her status as the daughter of the president. She recently decided to end her business career in favor of launching her own journey into public policy.

Melinda Gates

Following her graduation from Duke University, Melinda began working as an employee at Microsoft, where she quickly met her future husband. She has gone on to make a profound impact on the company, leading project teams in the development of programs such as Expedia, and has played a crucial role in creating and running her family’s philanthropic foundation.

Beyoncé Knowles

The singer, songwriter, actress, record producer and dancer has solidified her place on top of the music industry, winning 23 Grammy Awards on her way to becoming the most nominated woman in the prestigious award’s history. She has also developed a commanding presence as a social activist and fashion icon.

Susan Wojcicki

Wojcicki played a pivotal role in the founding of Google, becoming the company’s first marketing manager in 1999. She proposed the acquisition of YouTube, and ultimately took over as CEO of the company; a position in which she has been referred to as “the most important person in advertising.”

Serena Williams

Serena has completely dominated tennis in recent history, holding the rank of number one for a combined 319 weeks and winning a cross-discipline total of 39 grand slam titles across all surfaces. She has also become a fashion icon, a media presence and a global activist known for her charity work.

Sheryl Sandberg

The first woman on Facebook’s Board of Directors and current company COO, Sandberg previously held a vice president position at Google and the Chief of Staff for the United States Secretary of the Treasury. She has accrued a net worth of over $1.5 billion and is largely credited with making Facebook profitable.

Oprah Winfrey

The world-famous media executive, television personality and philanthropist built her presence from an underprivileged upbringing to being revered as the “Queen of all Media.” She was the first African-American billionaire in North America, and popularized a television format that gave rise to the open discussion of controversial and sensitive societal issues.

Nancy Pelosi

As the first ever female Speaker of the House of Representative and the highest-ranking elected woman in United States political history, Nancy Pelosi is an embodiment of female influence on a national scale. Regardless of her controversial policies, the 78-year-old public servant has dedicated her life to encouraging reform, representing her constituents and paving the way for future generations of female leaders.

Abigail Johnson

One of the wealthiest women on the planet, Johnson has now been CEO and president of Fidelity Investments for over two years. She is the first and only woman to serve on the board of the Financial Services Forum.

Russia

Elvira Nabiullina

Now a Russian economist and head of the Central Bank of Russia, Nabiullina served as Putin’s economic advisor during part of his rise to political prominence. She was the first female Russian participant in the G8 summit before Russia’s suspension from the group in 2014.

Valentina Matviyenko

Former governor of Saint Petersburg and current chairwoman of the Federation Council, Matviyenko has been a figure at the height of Russian politics for decades. Her focus on development of housing and infrastructure have led to explosions of industry and tourism in her districts.

Yelena Isinbayeva

A three-time world champion pole vaulter, two-time Olympic gold medalist and current world record holder, Isinbayeva became the first woman to clear the five-meter barrier and is one of the greatest gymnasts of all time. She is now serving an eight-year term as a member of the International Olympic Committee’s Athletes Commission.

Maria Zakharova

Zakharova, the current Director of Information and Press for the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Russian Federation, has made a name for herself through participation in political talk shows and social commentary on sensitive topics. She has a Russian equivalent of a doctorate degree.

China

Mingzhu Dong

Known as one of the toughest businesswomen in China, Dong got her start as a salesperson for Gree Electric Appliances – a position in which she recovered massive debts in little over a month. She has since risen to the roles of chairman and president and is recognized for her business acumen across the world.

Peng Liyuan

The popular recording artist entered the political limelight upon marrying Xi Jinping, the current leader of China. She has added prominence to the position of first lady of China, making public appearances and appearing on talk shows to discuss national matters. She also served as a member of the Chinese Liberation Army at age 18.

Jean Liu

After working at Goldman Sachs Asia for 12 years and rising to the position of managing director, she left to become the COO of rideshare startup Didi Chuxing, China’s largest mobile transportation platform. She oversaw the merger between DiDi and the company’s largest domestic competitor and has earned recognition as one of the most powerful women in the world in her current capacity.

Feng Ying Wang

Wang has been credited with globalizing China’s automotive industry through General Wall Motor, the company of which she is CEO. She has negotiated hardships due to international tariffs on her country and has begun executing on her vision of entering the Indian market by 2020.

Maggie Wei Wu

CFO of the family of internet-based businesses known as Alibaba Group, Wu is responsible for instituting the financial systems and organization that led to the company’s IPO. She was voted Best CFO in FinanceAsia’s “best-managed companies” poll in 2010.

United Kingdom

Theresa May

A former employee of the Bank of England, May entered the public sphere when she earned election to Parliament in 1997. She was appointed Home Secretary and Minister for Woman and Equalities when a coalition government was formed in 2010, and was later elected to be Britain’s second female prime minister after Margaret Thatcher, the position that she currently holds.

Queen Elizabeth II

Serving on the throne for 66 years, the Queen is now the longest reigning monarch in British history. The 92-year-old has overseen progressive reform in her tenure, pushing for preservation of wildlife, condoning breaches of protocol by the younger royals and even issuing her first tweet in 2014. She still greets world leaders and plays an active role in British politics from her position in Buckingham Palace.

Marianne Lake

As the CFO of JP Morgan Chase Bank, Lake has pushed for her company to play a role in technological innovation. In six years at her current post, she has emerged as the public voice of the company while also managing her responsibilities as a single mother.

Emma Walmsley

After a 17-year stint with L’Oreal in which she held several different general management positions, Walmsley joined GlaxoSmithKline in May 2010 as president of Consumer Healthcare Europe. She rose to head the company’s global consumer healthcare division before becoming CEO in 2015. She has been credited with focusing sales in emerging markets and developing as well as promoting new drugs.

Donna Langley

The chairman of Universal Pictures has taken a revolutionary approach to media production in the modern age, revamping her Focus Features division to concentrate on original storylines by commanding directors. Langley has demonstrated a phenomenal ability to operate on a budget, overseeing smash hits such as “Get Out” with less than $10 million in operating room.

Germany

Angela Merkel

It is hard to understate the impact that Angela Merkel has had on modern politics. She has served as the chancellor of Germany for over a decade, which has led her to be referred to as the de-facto leader of the European Union and by some as the leader of the free world. The 64-year-old has spent her entire career in the public sector and has topped many lists as the most powerful woman on the planet.

Melanie Kreis

Kreis served as the CFO of DHL Express before becoming a member of the executive board of Deutsche Post in 2014 and assuming the title of CFO in 2016. Boston Consulting Group named her their “woman of the year” in 2016.

Lisa Davis

After taking over as CEO of the U.S. subsidiary of German conglomerate Siemens AG in 2017, she began overseeing the largest single order in company history; a project with the goal of increasing Egypt’s power generation by 50 percent. She also completed a merger with a Spanish competitor, creating one of the world’s largest wind-turbine manufacturers.

Simone Bagel-Trah

Bagel-Trah started her career as an independent consultant for projects in microbiology and pharmaceutical fields. She has now been a chairwoman of Henkel for almost two decades and became the first woman to hold such a position for a top-30 German blue-chip company.

France

Christine Lagarde

A lawyer with background serving in the French government, Lagarde became managing director and chair of the International Monetary Fund in 2011. The self-described liberal capitalist has pushed for greater financial support to struggling EU countries and European financial unification.

Isabelle Kocher

With a background in engineering, Kocher burst into international prominence when she was appointed CEO of ENGIE in 2016. She has promoted an agenda of innovation and expansion, pushing for her company to become a frontrunner for global energy advancement. She is the only female CEO of one of France’s 40 most significant countries.

Dominique Senequier

After beginning her career as Insurance Commissioner for the French Ministry of Finance, she joined the private insurance group GAN in 1980. From there, she developed the subsidiary GAN Participations, which would ultimately develop into Ardian, the company of which she is currently the CEO. She now has 140 employees operating 50 massive funds at 12 locations across the planet.

Japan

Yayoi Kusama

One of the most important and revolutionary artists alive today, Kusama is active in painting, performance, film and written mediums. She is known for artwork exhibiting feminist undertones and minimalist styles and has made headlines for her avant-garde works.

Yuki Okoda

At age 23, Okoda is the youngest entry on our list. She made international shockwaves when she discovered dense material in the form of a disk around a newborn star while studying at the University of Tokyo’s School of Science. The discovery is thought to be a precursor for the formation of planetary systems — a groundbreaking building block to understanding more about our universe.

Chiaki Mukai

A certified cardiovascular surgeon and former assistant professor of cardiovascular surgery, Mukai shifted gears temporarily in the 1990s to participate in expositions to outer space. She became the first Japanese woman in space and the first Japanese citizen to have two spaceflights.

Israel

Gal Gadot

Gadot was crowned “Miss Israel” at age 18 in 2004, before serving as a combat instructor for the Israeli Defense Force for two years and studying law and international relations at college. She received international acclaim for her portrayal of Wonder Woman, a role for which she did international talk show tours and became an international symbol for female empowerment.

Natalie Portman

Portman is an Academy Award and Golden Globe-winning actress, known for her dramatic abilities showcased in films such as Black Swan. She uses her platform as a globally-recognized actress to advocate for social causes, such as animal rights.

Sivan Borowich-Ya’ari

After obtaining a master’s degree in international energy management from Columbia University, Borowich-Ya’ari put her education to work founding Innovation: Africa, an initiative using Israeli solar technology and solar-powered water pumps to revitalize depleted African villages. As of 2015, her projects were responsible for over 100 agricultural and solar installation projects in remote villages.

Italy 

Federica Mogherini

Formerly the Italian Minister for Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation, Mogherini assumed the position of High Representative of the European Union for Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation. She received acclaim for her work in this position pertaining to the Iranian nuclear crisis.

Emma Marcegaglia

A household name in Italy, Marcegaglia formerly the president of Italy’s influential employers’ association, Confindustria, she is now the chairwoman of Eni, one of the world’s largest oil companies. She is known as being calm and articulate through difficult business dealings and maintaining a youthfulness despite her experience.

Canada

Zahra Al-Harazi

Al-Harazi founded international award-winning marketing studio Foundry Communications in 2006 with her business partner, filling the roles of CEO and Creative Director before the company’s sale in 2016. She is now the Canadian Ambassador to UNICEF.

Clara Angotti

Agiotti exhibited a tremendous understanding of technology and profitability in the digital age through her founding and development of Next Pathway, Inc., a platform modernization company. She has spent her time outside of the office making a difference in the global community, serving as a member of the board of trustees for The Hospital for Sick Children.

Jennifer Bennett

Rear-Admiral Jennifer Bennett is a senior Canadian Forces Naval Reserve officer who previously served as the highest-ranking reservist in the Canadian Armed Forces. She not only paved the way for women in military fields as the most senior woman in the Royal Canadian Navy; she moved the post for Canada’s military might in 2004 when she was awarded a merit for outstanding service in duties of responsibility.

Lilly Singh

The Candian YouTube personality known as SuperWoman ranked 10th on Forbes list of highest paid YouTube stars in 2017. Recognized as one of the top social media influencers on the planet, Singh uses her platform for societal benefit, serving as a UNICEF Goodwill Ambassador to advocate for children’s rights.

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