The World’s 100 Most Powerful Women 2022: Is Women’s Power In Peril?
At a time of intense geopolitical turbulence and uncertainty, and as the world wrestles with a series of converging crises, the promise of and the need for women’s power has never been more significant.
The 2022 list of the World’s 100 Most Powerful Women spotlights innovators and instigators who are leading on the world stage to redefine traditional power structures and forge lasting impact in every sphere of influence. They’re leveraging their power beyond conventional political and economic might to transform industries and solve society’s most urgent issues. Since the inception of this list, we’ve seen women’s ability to create influence and power evolve – and that is especially true this year.
What does the 2022 list reflect about women’s collective power worldwide? Where have we seen the most considerable strides made, and where is the most work still to be done?
The women bookending the 2022 list, European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen at #1 and Iran’s Mahsa Amini at #100, exemplify women’s unconventional paths to power and how it’s weilded, having galvanized unity in times of turmoil.
As the representative of the 27 EU member states and their 450 million constituents, Ursula von der Leyen reflects how Europe – and women’s leadership – has taken center stage amidst today’s global volatility. The fate and future ambitions of the European Union are being shaped by her ability to continue a united front against Russia while simultaneously easing the domestic economic crises that reverberate globally.
Since becoming the first woman to helm the EU’s governing body nearly three years ago, von der Leyen has been lauded for her top-down leadership approach as a bridge-builder and a formidable force deftly brokering solutions inside and outside EU borders, not to mention within the often slow-moving bureaucratic institution she helms. The issues shaking the foundation of global power to its core have dominated her leadership agenda and spanned the Covid recovery crisis to galvanizing Russian sanctions, deploying unprecedented support to Ukraine’s democratic frontlines, and standing up to global powers such as China.
The late Jina “Mahsa” Amini takes this year’s #100 position, the list’s first-ever posthumous inclusion which also underscores how modern power is cultivated and deployed on behalf of justice. The tragic death of Amini in September while in the custody of Iran’s morality police sparked defiant protests against the regime’s oppression and quickly erupted across Iran, and throughout the world. Her name became synonymous with the valiant fight for women’s equality. By banding together, these protestors, predominantly young women, created a collective voice strong enough to catalyze a revolutionary movement and threaten the end of an authoritarian regime.
Bottom-up, grassroots power can extend beyond any one individual and hold equal measure to the potency wielded by traditional titles of political or economic might. Amini symbolizes the power of the thousands of Iranian women she emboldened. Their bravery is cause for hope – and a reminder that meaningful progress is possible against formidable odds.
Amini and von der Leyen represent the diverse ways women have taken center stage amidst this time of global unrest and volatility, and reinforce that there’s hardly a void of women’s power around the globe. Men still may dominate the power seat majority, but this year’s listees sit at the epicenter of some of today’s most critical battles for democracy, economic autonomy, and free markets. Collectively, they hold the power to move all forward.