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10. Sheryl Sandberg
\nFacebook’s chief operating officer has had a busy year, becoming the first female on the company’s board of directors in 2012, guiding the social media giant through its closely publicised and scrutinised $100bn IPO. She has nearly $1bn of uninvested stock in the company.
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9. Aung San Suu Kyi
\nAs iconic as she is powerful, the leader of Burma’s prodemocracy movement continues to inspire a non-violent approach to protest across the globe. Her party, the National League for Democracy, won 43 out of 45 vacant seats in the lower house of the Burmese Parliament in by-elections.
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8. Queen Rania
\nWith nearly 2.5m followers on Twitter and more than one million Facebook ‘likes’, a the wife of King Abdullah of Jordan is one of the few first ladies using her position to reach out to the masses. She is using her power, influence, and popularity to champion education and health programmes as well as cross-culture dialogue.
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7. Dilma Rousseff
\nWith the 2014 World Cup and 2016 Olympic Games on the horizon, Brazil’s premier is having to branch out into PR while maintaining the world’s sixth largest economy. The popular leader has made extreme poverty one of her key issues, aiming to raise 2.5m Brazilians above the breadline.
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6. Fatou Bensouda
\nIn June 2012 Bensouda took up the role of chief prosecutor for the International Criminal Court, prosecuting individuals for genocide, crimes against humanity, war crimes and crimes of aggression. The Gambian lawyer, prosecutor and legal advisor has been the recipient of the World Peace Through Law award, as well as being named by Jeune Afrique and Time as one of the most influential people in the world.
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5. Ginni Rometti
\nTaking up the role of chairman and CEO of IBM last October, Rometti is one of the most powerful women in business. As the company’s first CEO, Rometti has started implementing moves in new markets like cloud computing and business analytics to drive $20bn of revenue growth by 2015.
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4. Michelle Obama
\nDid she win her husband re-election? Her positive approval ratings prior and subsequent to the Presidential election in November suggest Michelle Obama played a significant part, peaking at about 67 percent while the president’s wavered at about 50 percent.
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3. Christine Lagarde
\nHaving to battle the European debt crisis during the first year of her directorship, Lagarde secured $430bn in funding from G-20 countries in April last year, almost doubling the IMF’s lending capacity in the process. Lagarde has steadily been helping to rebuild economies across the Middle East.
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2. Hillary Clinton
\nWhether she’s urging Syrian President Bashar Assad to hand over power or warning North Korean leader Kim Jong Un not to follow the political path of his father, former US Secretary of State Clinton has never been far away from the big global issues. A presidential candidate for 2016?
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1. Angela Merkel
\nShe’s the top woman among the world’s political elite, which is why Merkel heads this list. Described as the de facto leader of the European Union, she continues to be its chief decisionmaker, and was instrumental in the EU being awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 2012. Her mettle will be tested later this year, however, as her government loses popularity ahead of the German election, despite polls suggesting she remains the nation’s most popular post-war chancellor.