1. Angela Merkel, German Chancellor: The world’s most powerful woman for a second year in a row is a key figure in the eurozone crisis and has been labelled the ‘Iron Lady’ of Europe.
2. Hillary Clinton, US Secretary of State: Married to former president Bill Clinton, she is the first former First Lady to serve in the president’s cabinet.
3. Dilma Rousseff, President of Brazil: The daughter of a Bulgarian entrepreneur is the first woman to hold office in Brazil. After joining Marxist urban guerrilla groups and fighting against the Brazilian military government, she was captured and jailed for two years in 1970.
4. Melinda Gates, co-founder, Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation: As the wife of Microsoft’s former chief executive, the couple’s charity donated $2.6m last year. She is focused on improving access to malaria immunisation and contraception in developing countries.
5. Jill Abramson, executive editor of New York Times: As the first female to run the newspaper, she is responsible for guiding the publication through its digital transformation.
6. Sonia Gandhi, president of the Indian National Congress: Following Rajiv Gandhi’s assassination in 1991, she joined politics six years later. She has been elected four times, making her the longest serving president in the Congress.
7. Michelle Obama, First Lady of the United States: The wife of President Barak Obama is a worldwide fashion icon and polls reveal her to be more popular than her husband. She is committed to ending child obesity and is a prominent advocate in poverty awareness.
8. Christine Lagarde, managing director, International Monetary Fund: As the first woman to run the international organisation, she replaced Dominique Strauss-Kahn in 2011, where she is tasked with tackling the eurozone crisis.
9. Janet Napolitano, US Secretary of Homeland Security: The 54-year-old and Democratic Party Member is the first female head of the department. Between 2003 and 2009, she was the governor of Arizona.
10. Sheryl Sandberg, COO Facebook: She was elected to the social network’s board of directors in June 2012 and owns nearly $1bn of invested stock in the company. The full list at www.forbes.com/power-women.
German Chancellor Angela Merkel and US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton have been named as the world’s most powerful women by Forbes magazine.
For Ms Merkel – who beat Ms Clinton to first place – it is her second consecutive year topping the esteemed rankings.
Brazil’s President Dilma Rousseff made it into third place. US First Lady Michelle Obama came seventh in the list.
The list highlights successful women who work in sectors as diverse as politics, business, media and entertainment – their rankings are determined by calculating wealth, media presence and overall impact.
For 16 women, it is their first time making the list. These include singer Jennifer Lopez, former US Republican presidential candidate Michele Bachmann and Marissa Mayer of Yahoo.
Lady Gaga, the pop singer, makes it to 14 and, at 26 years old, is the youngest. The oldest, Britain’s Queen Elizabeth II, who is 86, ranks only at number 26.
The women come from a total of 28 countries, with an average age of 55.
The 100-strong list includes 25 CEOs overseeing $984bn (£620bn) in revenues.
For Ms Merkel, the top spot reflects her role in trying to resolve the European Union’s financial crisis.
She “is the ‘Iron Lady’ of the European Union and the lead player in the eurozone economic drama that continues to threaten global markets”, Forbes said.
Ms Clinton, the magazine said, “has had a formidable past 12 months” and is set to resign at the end of the year.
Another major US political figure, Secretary of Homeland Security Janet Napolitano, makes nine on the list. She is also the first female head of that department.
“This year’s Power Women exert influence in very different ways, and to very different ends, and all with very different impacts on the global community,” said Moira Forbes, president of ForbesWoman.
“Whether leading multi-billion-dollar companies, governing countries, shaping the cultural fabric of our lives, or spearheading humanitarian initiatives, collectively these women are changing the planet in profoundly powerful and dynamic ways.”