The Most Powerful Women Youve NeverHeard OfWomen have certainly proved their spirits in this male-dominated world. Not only havethey cut away from the stereotype, but they also manage to come out shiningdynamically in all fields be it politics or entrepreneurship. While there are a few who areworld famous and have made their mark, foreign policy.com named the most powerfulwomen youve never heard of and the list includes: Helen Clark (Administrator, U.N.Development Program, New Zealand):As New Zealands prime minister, Helen Clark managed a decade of economic growthand won three straight terms in her post after a long career as a Labour Party legislatorand cabinet minister. However, in less than a year following her departure as Kiwi primeminister, Helen turned to a much larger and more challenging stage. Since 2009, she hasled the U.N. Development Program (UNDP), the arm of the United Nations charged withtackling the worlds worst problems, from global poverty to corrupt governance to healthand environmental crises. Clark now oversees the UNDPs nearly $5 billion annualbudget and over 8,000 employees operating in 177 countries. Cholera in Haiti andfamine in Somalia may be far from daily life for several New Zealanders, but Helenappears fearless. Her top goal as administrator, she said, is no less than to eradicateextreme poverty around the world.
Liu Yandong (State councilor, China):As Mao Zedong famously said - they hold up "half the sky" but, women make up just over20 percent of the delegates in Chinas national legislature. Former chemist Liu Yandongis the outlier: the only woman in the Politburo, the 25-member influential decision-making body at the top of the Communist Party pyramid. She is considered a close ally ofPresident Hu Jintao, and hence, has a good chance of ascending this fall to become oneof the small handful in the Politburo Standing Committee, the true ruling council at thecenter of the system. Lius politics differ from those of her contemporaries, though someanalysts think she favors increasing Chinas contacts with the outside world. Liu, 66, hasan honorary Ph.D. from the State University of New York at Stony Brook and spoke atYale University in 2009. Liu would be the first woman in Chinese history to make it tothe Standing Committee.
Lael Brainard (Treasuryundersecretary for international affairs, United States):While Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithners attention is focused on the U.S. economy,tackling the brush fires of global economic calamity has fallen to Lael Brainard. TheHarvard-trained economist was born in 1962 and raised in communist Poland as thedaughter of a U.S. foreign-service officer. She later went on to serve on the NationalEconomic Council during Bill Clintons administration, working on the U.S. response tothe Mexican peso and Asian financial crises. During President Barack Obamasadministration, Lael has been consumed with Europes financial corruption, shufflingback and forth between Washington and European capitals in an effort to convinceleaders to prop up failing economies and to avoid further spread. Lael has broughttireless diplomatic energy to the job.
Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala (Finance minister, Nigeria):Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, a former World Bank managing director, was nominated by thegovernments of South Africa, Angola, and Nigeria to succeed Robert Zoellick ,aspresident of the bank. By tradition, the spot has been held by an American chosen by theU.S. government, but Okonjo-Iweala thinks its time for a change. "The balance of powerin the world has shifted," she said following her nomination, saying that developingcountries "need to be given a voice in running things." For now, she is more or lessrunning things in Nigeria, where she is in her second term as finance minister. In herfirst term, the Harvard- and MIT-educated economist received praises for negotiatingbillions of dollars in debt forgiveness with Nigerias international creditors andintroducing a high-profile campaign against corruption. This time her mission is madeall the more difficult by a campaign of terror by al Qaeda-affiliated Boko Harammilitants. However, the 57-year-old Okonjo-Iweala is determined to make Nigeria anattractive place for international companies.
Mary Schapiro (Chair, U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission, UnitedStates):Mary Schapiro was the first woman appointed permanent head of the Securities andExchange Commission (SEC) and was bound to attract attention when President Obamanominated her in late 2008. She came to the SEC in the immediate aftermath of the $50billion Bernard Madoff scandal and a market crash chiefly blamed on questionablefinancial practices and lax regulation. But Mary, who first held a seat on the SEC from1988 to 1994, is no stranger to controversial politics. She left the SEC in the 1990s to runthe biggest nongovernmental regulator of securities firms and spent the next decadegoing after industry insiders and critiquing Wall Street excesses. Ever since returning tothe SEC, she has fought to re-establish public confidence in the commission, controllingan increase in the number of cases pursued by the SEC and arguing for the authority toimpose higher financial penalties.
Theresa May (Home secretary, Britain):Theresa May first came into the public consciousness in 2002, when her ConservativeParty was in the political wilderness and Tony Blairs Labour government was at thepeak of its popularity. That year, Theresa, a Member of Parliament since 1997, spoke at aparty conference and warned her Tory colleagues that the public saw them as the "nastyparty." The phrase became a rallying cry for a new brand of Tory symbolized by May andher ideological ally, David Cameron, who united traditional Conservative economic ideaswith moderate stances on gay rights and the environment. Cameron arrived in 2010, at10 Downing Street and named Theresa as his home secretary and minister for womenand equality. Shes only the fourth woman to hold one of Britains four "Great Offices,"which include prime minister, Chancellor of the Exchequer, and foreign secretary.
Fatou Bensouda (Incoming chief prosecutor, International Criminal Court,Gambia):Over the course of Fatou Bensouda’s nine-year term, she will oversee cases against thelikes of Ivory Coasts Laurent Gbagbo, Sudans Omar Hassan al-Bashir, and the fugitiveLords Resistance Army leader Joseph Kony. All are notable not only for the scale of theirviolence but also for where they were committed. Each of the courts 15 cases so far hasinvolved incidents in Africa, which, by Bensoudas estimate, has led to a perception ofthe ICC as a "Western court" targeting her home continent. A native of Gambia, she hasheld multiple cabinet positions, and was educated in Nigeria and rose to theinternational stage when she worked in the prosecution of leaders of the 1994 Rwandangenocide. Now shes vowing to track the worlds worst perpetrators, with equal passion,"in Africa or outside Africa."
Marisela Morales (Attorney general, Mexico):After Felipe Calderón’s (Mexican president) attorney general resigned last year, hedesperately needed to prove his government would finally crack down on drug violence,which has claimed more than 40,000 lives since he took office in 2006. Calderóns newpick, Marisela, not only was the first female appointed to the post, but also had aninternational reputation for her hard line on crime. A career prosecutor known forcombining arrogance with a strong compassion for victims, the 42-year-old tackled gangviolence in Mexico City before taking the helm of the countrys organized crime agency in2008. There, she helped generate Mexicos first witness protection program, launched aprogram to reunite trafficking victims with their children, and fired more than two dozenofficials, including her predecessor, for selling tips to a leading drug gang. In her first100 days as attorney general, a massive number of 462 officials in her office weredismissed and another 111 faced criminal charges.
Kim Kyong Hui (Politburo member, North Korea):Still, some North Korea watchers believe the real power behind the throne resides withKim Kyong Hui and her husband, Jang Song Thaek. She is the daughter of North Koreasfounder, Kim Il Sung, the sister of the last ruler, Kim Jong Il, and the aunt of the presentleader, Kim Jong Un. Officially, General Kim is the director of North Koreas LightIndustry Department, but because of her lineage, connections, and longevity she appearsto have been a member of North Koreas inner circle for more than 40 years. She and herdominant husband might be instructing the countrys untested young leader from thewings.100 days as attorney general, a massive number of 462 officials in her office weredismissed and another 111 faced criminal charges.
Valerie Amos (U.N. emergency relief coordinator, Britain):Valerie Amos, born in the former British colony of Guyana, was the first black leader ofthe House of Lords and the first black woman appointed to a cabinet position. As aBritish minister, Amos focused on efforts to lessen poverty in Africa through debt reliefand private investment initiatives. In Valerie’s role as U.N. undersecretary-general forhumanitarian affairs and emergency relief coordinator, in over the past two years, shehas increasingly started showing up as a player in the worlds conflict zones. She haslaunched relief efforts in earthquake-stricken Haiti, seen to the needs of Libyan refugeesalong the border with Tunisia, and visited war-torn Somalia as it struggled with anoverwhelming famine.The other powerful women on the list are Ann Dunwoody (Commanding general, U.S.Army Materiel Command, United States), Atifete Jahjaga (President, Kosovo), Lubna Al-Qasimi (Minister for foreign trade, United Arab Emirates), Gleisi Hoffmann(Presidential chief of staff, Brazil), Cecilia Malmstrom (European commissioner forhome affairs, Sweden), Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (Chair, House Foreign Affairs Committee,United States), Peng Liyuan (Major general, Peoples Liberation Army, China), SriMulyani Indrawati (Former finance minister, Indonesia), Fayza Abul Naga (Minister ofinternational cooperation, Egypt), Marina Berlusconi (Chair, Fininvest, Italy), JosefinaVázquez Mota (Presidential candidate, Mexico), Valentina Matviyenko(Speaker,Federation Council, Russia), Viviane Reding (European commissioner for justice,fundamental rights, and citizenship, Luxembourg), Lindiwe Mazibuko (Party leader,
Democratic Alliance, South Africa)and Hanan Ashrawi (Member, PLO executivecommittee, West Bank).