*Christine Lagarde and Angela Merkel first, second on list
Kamala Harris has become the third most powerful woman in the world by virtue of being elected as America’s next vice-president, according to the latest rankings of a popular annual power list.
The Democratic senator from California was catapulted right into the No 3 spot for her debut on Forbes magazine’s world’s 100 most powerful women list. She appears just below Christine Lagarde, president of the European Central Bank, and the German chancellor, Angela Merkel, who made the top spot for the 10th straight year, in the 2020 list published this week.
Forbes highlighted Harris’s victory as Joe Biden’s running mate in the Democratic win over Donald Trump and his vice-president, Mike Pence, in the November race for the White House, noting she will be America’s first female vice-president and the first person of colour in that role, reports The Guardian
Harris, who was the attorney general of California before being elected to the US Senate, will be the first Black American and first Asian American to be elected vice-president.
She made a speech after the election victory in which she noted that she may be the first but she will not be the last woman in that role, and Forbes pointed to the break-out moment in her debate against Pence before the election when she confidently and calmly blocked Pence’s repeated interruptions by declaring: “Mr Vice-President, I’m speaking.”
That riposte “launched a thousand memes (and even a handful of T-shirts), but it also became a rallying cry for women across America”, Forbes noted.
Beyond the stand-out moment for Harris and US politics, the 2020 list prominently featured female leaders who have earned accolades on the world stage for their handling of the coronavirus pandemic.
Women from prime ministers to corporate executives earned spots in the list for their achievements helping mitigate and control the deadly contagious virus, which has infected more than 67 million people and caused 1.54 million deaths, Forbes said.
New Zealand’s prime minister, Jacinda Ardern, Taiwan’s president, Tsai Ing-wen, Finland’s prime minister, Sanna Marin, Lagarde, who was previously head of the International Monetary Fund, and the Tokyo governor, Yuriko Koike, were particularly effective, it said.
“Where they differ in age, nationality and job description, they are united in the ways they have been using their platforms to address the unique challenges of 2020,” Forbes said on its website.
It quoted Norway’s prime minister, Erna Solberg, also on the list, who said recently that “countries where human rights are respected and where women are able to reach top positions in society are also the countries that are the best-equipped to handle crises by Covid-19”.
New Zealand eliminated coronavirus infections with a strict lockdown, reporting just over 2,000 cases of the virus and 25 deaths.
Taiwan kept the pandemic under control after instituting strict restrictions and largely closing its borders in January, long before western countries, limiting cases of the virus to just over 700 and seven deaths, it said.
Of the 17 newcomers to the Forbes list, Carol Tomé, chief executive of United Parcel Service, where delivery volumes soared during lockdowns, and Linda Rendle, chief executive of Clorox, which boosted production of cleaning goods as demand ballooned amid the surging virus, were noted for their work.
At CVS Health, also in the US, Karen Lynch, who becomes chief executive in February, took over the pharmacy giant’s Covid response and extensive network of testing sites. In 2021, she will be responsible for overseeing vaccine distribution at the company’s nearly 10,000 US pharmacy locations.
Stacey Cunningham, the first woman to head the New York stock exchange, made the “swift” decision to shut down in-person trading as the virus was spreading in March, it said.
Britain’s Queen Elizabeth was just 46th on the list.
*Courtesy: The Guardian