The year 2023 was dominated by the BarbenHeimer premiers that resulted in record-breaking cinema attendance, even locally. Barbie grossed $1.4 billion globally, achieving the highest worldwide earnings ever for a live-action film, directed by a woman.

This year, Barbie made it for Forbes’ 2023 Power Women List as number 100, making it the first fictional character that made it on the list, among some of the most prominent leaders, politicians and celebrities of the world.

“Barbie may be a doll, but in 2023, she became much more,” Forbes said.

Forbes acknowledges that in these challenging periods where the world is facing unprecedented wars, environmental challenges, threats to democracy and women’s rights, such a decision might be viewed as controversial. However, it added, the difficulties in changing the obstacles are why barbie was chosen for the list.

Forbes expanded that it became a symbol of female empowerment, “to become an avatar for the necessity of fighting to recapture power that’s been taken away. She inspired girls and their mothers for generations, but this was the year women needed her most.”  

Additionally, gathering experts input on the significance of Barbie, Forbes highlighted how even when created originally, Barbie served as a source of inspiration. Barbie, through its customisation in clothing served as symbol for girls to aspire to have different careers.

“As arbiters of the Power List, we acknowledge that Barbie can’t restore American’s reproductive rights, reopen girls’ schools in Afghanistan, bestow liberty on Iranian women or save women in Gaza and Ukraine from the devastation of man-made bombs. Only women in political, economic, and institutional power can do that,” Forbes added.

Nonetheless, it added that Barbie can give a voice to the voiceless and power to the powerless through her ability to inspire.

Who are the most prominent figures on the list and why?

For Forbes’ 20th annual edition of the World’s 100 Most Powerful Women, it decided to include women from different worlds.

  • European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen – She was the first woman to serve the role, appointed in July 2019.

  • European Central Bank President Christine Lagarde – 2019 was a great year for female leaders. She was appointed as the first Female President in November 2019.

  • US Vice President Kamala Harris – After being in politics for years, she became the first woman, the first black person and the first South Asian-American to hold such a role.

  • Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni – Up until October 2022, Italy has never had a female Prime Minister.

  • Taylor Swift – A beloved pop star across the globe, Taylor Swift has been deemed as one of the most powerful figures in the industry after taking back her music catalog subsequent to a turbulent period with Scooter Braun. She became a billionaire in October 2023, and is the first musician to make the ranks solely based on her songs and performances.

  • CVS Health President and CEO Karen Lynch – Earlier, she was named as Fortune’s most powerful woman in business for the third consecutive year. Her mission is to revolutionise health care in America, after losing her mother to suicide because of what she has described as lack of access to medical treatment, stigma, and shame about getting help for depression. She was Vice-President of Aetna when it merged with CVS Health and became its CEO.

  • Citigroup CEO Jane Fraser – According to the Financial Times she is the first and only woman to run a Wall Street Bank and the woman behind a major shakeup at Citigroup.

  • Fidelity Investments CEO Abigal Johnson – She held the role since 2014, succeeding her father, whilst also holding the position of chairperson. She holds an approximate 28.5 per cent ownership stake in the company. As of September 2023, the firm oversaw discretionary assets valued at $4.5 trillion.

  • General Motors CEO Mary Barra – She was appointed as CEO in 2014, making her the first woman to lead one of the United States’ big three automakers.

  • Bill and Melinda Gates foundation Cochair, Melinda French Gates – Former multimedia product developer and manager at Microsoft as well as ex wife of its co-founder, Bill Gates. Ms French Gates is a philanthropist, businesswoman and global advocate for women and girls.


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