The Most Powerful Women You’ve Never Heard Of

| April 23, 2012

93505 120411 5%2520women The Most Powerful Women Youve Never Heard Of


1 Helen Clark

Administrator, U.N. Development Program | New Zealand




As New
Zealand’s prime minister, Helen Clark oversaw a decade of economic growth and
won three straight terms in her post after a long career as a Labour Party
legislator and cabinet minister. Less than a year following her departure as
Kiwi prime minister, however, Clark turned to a much larger — and more
challenging — stage: Since 2009, she has led the U.N. Development Program (UNDP), the arm of the United Nations
charged with confronting the world’s worst problems, from global poverty to
corrupt governance to health and environmental crises. Clark, 62, now oversees
the UNDP’s nearly $5 billion
annual budget and more than 8,000 employees operating in 177 countries. Cholera
in Haiti and famine in Somalia may be far from daily life for many New
Zealanders, but Clark appears undaunted. Her top goal as administrator, she
said last fall, is no less than to eradicate extreme poverty around the world.


2 Liu Yandong

State councilor | China


Although they hold up “half the sky,” as Mao Zedong
famously said, women make up just over 20 percent of the delegates in China’s
national legislature. Former chemist Liu Yandong is the outlier: the only woman
in the Politburo, the 25-member elite decision-making body at the top of the
Communist Party pyramid. Considered a close ally of President Hu Jintao, she
has a good chance of ascending this fall to become one of the small handful in
the Politburo Standing Committee, the true ruling council at the center of the
system. As with everyone in China’s opaque Politburo, little is known about how
Liu’s politics differ from those of her colleagues, though some analysts think
she favors increasing China’s contacts with the outside world; the 66-year-old
Liu has an honorary Ph.D. from the State University of New York at Stony Brook
and spoke at Yale University in 2009. She would be the first woman in Chinese
history to make it to the Standing Committee.


3 Lael Brainard

Treasury undersecretary for international affairs | United States


With Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner’s attention
focused on the U.S. economy, tackling the brush fires of global economic
calamity has often fallen to Lael Brainard. The even-tempered, Harvard-trained
economist was born in 1962 and raised in communist Poland as the daughter of a
U.S. foreign-service officer. She went on to serve on the National Economic
Council during Bill Clinton’s administration, working on the U.S. response to
the Mexican peso and Asian financial crises. During President Barack Obama’s
administration, Brainard has been consumed with Europe’s financial contagion,
shuttling back and forth between Washington and European capitals (while her
husband, Assistant Secretary of State Kurt Campbell,

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Category: Politics

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