African powerhouses Mo Abudu, Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala and Samia Suluhu-Hassan join the niche gathering of Black women in the Forbes 100 list of “most powerful women in the world.”
For 18 years, Forbes’ list of “most powerful women in the world” has provided a useful benchmark on how influential women are making their mark in the world. While the publication notes how their list is compiled, it’s not: “just enough to have money, or a position of power. A person must be doing something with their fortune, voice or public platform”, the annual list serves to provide a visibility to groundbreaking achievements, and for us in particular, Black women’s achievements, which no doubt inspires a new generation of powerful Black women.
Read on to learn about the most powerful Black women on the Forbes 100 list of “most powerful women in the world. View the full list here.
Vice President of the United States Kamala Harris is the second most powerful woman in the world according to Forbes. This inevitably also makes her the most powerful Black woman on the list, and there’s an endless stream of reasons why. Kamala Harris is the queen of firsts, not only is she the first woman to become the Vice President of the United States, but she is also the first Black person, as well as the first South Asian-American to hold the esteemed title. Harris also holds the distinction of becoming the first African American and first woman to serve as California’s attorney general in 2010.
Almost needing no explanation, Oprah’s achievements are legendary and well-documented. Taking the spot as the 23rd most powerful woman on the list, Oprah Winfrey’s highlights include running her syndicated talk show for 25 years. Oprah is also noted as being the first African American woman to own her own production company, the Oprah Winfrey Network. Today Oprah continues to dominate the media world by being the number one ‘interviewer’ for the world’s biggest celebrities.
Thasunda Brown Duckett
Thasunda Brown Duckett is an American businesswoman. She is 45th on the Forbes list, rightfully so thanks to the role she plays in the world and the Black community. A highlight of her career are her efforts to increase homeownership and affordable housing for Black and Hispanic Americans while working at mortgage company Fannie Mae. In 2021, Thasunda became the president and CEO of TIAA, a retirement and financial services company. Duckett also serves on a number of big brand boards like Nike.
Robyn Rihanna Fenty is the 68th most powerful woman. The Barbadian singer was recently declared a national hero of Barbados. Rihanna’s cosmetics line, Fenty Beauty, cleared her path to becoming a billionaire. In recent years, superseding her superstar role as a musician, she is a certified business woman. She also has a 30% stake in the Savage x Fenty lingerie line which added to her billionaire status. Rihanna isn’t just a queen in the music scene, she has planted her billionaire roots as an industrious businesswoman, and she deserves all the flowers in the world.
Queen Bey makes it on the list as the 76th most powerful woman. Building on her rise to fame as the lead singer of Destiny’s Child, Beyoncé has become arguably one of the most famous personalities in the world. Beyoncé is the gift that keeps on giving, according to Forbes, her On The Run Stadium tour with Jay Z grossed about $5 million per night, this accumulated to more than $250 million total. Her Ivy Park line is also currently on the up and up following its relaunch and partnership with adidas. There are too many reasons why this superstar remains one of the most powerful women in the world.
Ava DuVernay is another queen of firsts. She appears 80th on the list, thanks to all her groundbreaking achievements in the movie industry. A filmmaker, producer and director, Ava is the first Black woman to be nominated by the Academy Awards as a director in a feature category. She is also the first Black woman to direct a film that grossed a $100 million – the 2018 Disney fantasy adaptation of A Wrinkle in Time, which no doubt led to her signing a $100 million deal with Warner Brothers later that year.
Serena Williams follows closely behind as the 85th woman on the list. The tennis star has become a household name and a role model for Black girls around the world; she recently dipped her toes into the movie industry as a producer with the movie King Richard, a biopic based on her father. According to Forbes, she has nearly 20 corporate partners, her career has skyrocketed her net worth as she has made twice as much as any other female athlete. There are so many achievements Serena has made that goes beyond her tennis career, she also has a clothing line, S by Serena which she launched in 2018.
Dr Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala is a renowned economist and international development professional. Okonjo-Iweala gained her spot as 91st on the list through the large part she has played in Nigerian / International economies. She is the first woman and the first African to be appointed as the director-general of the World Trade Organization. Her passion and drive plays a huge role in supporting third world developing countries to come out of poverty. Previous roles include terms as Nigeria’s Finance minister.
Samia Suluhu Hassan
Samia Suluhu Hassan is a welcome addition to the Forbes most powerful Black women in the world list (94th). Salama Suluhu Hassan is Tanzania’s sixth president, and the country’s first female leader ever, becoming president following the death of her predecessor, President John Magufuli. Highlights of her presidency so far has seen her implement tougher COVID-19 protocols in Tanzania and boldly criticize COVID vaccine inequality when she addressed the UN General Assembly in September.
98th on the list is Nigeria’s Mo Abudu. A force to be reckoned with in the media world, she has taken the Nigerian film industry by storm with her Ebonylife brand. Mo Abudu’s Ebonylife TV network has certainly made its mark around the world, currently airing in more than 49 countries across Africa as well as the Caribbean and UK. Major deals and partnerships have been established between her Ebonylife brand and other giant media companies like Netflix, Sony Pictures and AMC network. According to Forbes, the deal with Netflix is one of the first ever deals to be made between an African media company and the streaming platform.