Angela Merkel made history in 2005 when she became Germany’s first female chancellor, a position she has continued to hold for four terms. Leading the biggest economy in Europe, Merkel, 64, is considered the most powerful leader in the European Union. Her name is synonymous with stability, which is why Germans call her Mutti, or Mother. Big decisions in the EU are not made without Merkel. Many even named her “leader of the free world” after Donald Trump was elected president of the United States in 2016.
But Merkel does not plan on staying at the top: Merkel announced in NOvember she would not seek another term as chancellor in 2021, and she has already stepped down as the leader of her Christian Democratic Union.
Michelle Obama may no longer be first lady, but she is still America’s favorite one. Named 2018’s most admired woman in America, she not only beat out the current first lady, Melania Trump, but also for the first time in 17 years bumped Hillary Clinton from the top of the list. The list asks Americans who they admire most, living anywhere in the world. Obama earned 15% of the votes, followed by Oprah Winfrey, with 5%. Gallup, which administers the poll, attributed the change in ranking to Clinton’s retreatment into private life. Obama’s autobiography “Becoming” sold more than 1.4 million copies in its first week. Her activism work has been focused on military families, how women can balance career and family, and on encouraging national service.
Still active as a writer and speaker, Gloria Steinem has been one of the most powerful voices of the women’s rights movement, certainly among its most visible leaders as a journalist, editor, and co-founder of New York Magazine. Most recently, she has also become an adviser to TIME’S UP, a global movement against sexual harassment and violence against women. Steinem helped found the Women’s Action Alliance, an information center that focuses on multiracial children’s education. She also helped found the National Women’s Political Caucus, which is still active and works towards equality for women in government. President Barack Obama awarded Steinem the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the highest civilian honor, in 2013.
Between her net worth, public influence, and recently mentioned as a possible 2020 presidential candidate, Oprah Winfrey, 65, continues to top lists of media’s most powerful women. She may no longer appear daily on TV screens in millions of American homes, but she continues to preside over a massive media, entertainment, and business empire worth an estimated $2.7 billion. Since 2015, she has been a board member and brand ambassador for Weight Watchers, a position that earned her more than $400 million. She also has signed a content partnership deal with Apple. Winfrey has used her influence to help political candidates. Most recently, she campaigned for Georgia Democratic gubernatorial nominee Stacey Abrams. Winfrey’s friend and well-known spiritual guru, Marianne Williamson, has announced her intention to run for president.