Forbes 2018 Most Powerful Women: Ethiopia president sole African

Abdur Rahman Alfa Shaban

In 2017 there was only one African on the Forbes list of 100 Most powerful women. Same is the case for 2018 with Ethiopian president Sahle-Work Zewde, being the lone African.

Sahle-Work, a long serving diplomat and international civil servant was nominated by Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed and subsequently confirmed by parliament.

As at the time, she became the sole female president in Africa and Ethiopia’s first. She ranked 97th on the list that was topped by German Chancellor Angela Merkel.

As at end of last year, Africa’s richest woman and daughter of the immediate past Angolan leader, Isabel dos Santos was the 74th most powerful woman in the world.

What Forbes wrote about #97 Sahle-Work Zewde
In October 2018, Sahle-Work Zewde became Ethiopia’s first woman president and the only serving female head of state in Africa.
A seasoned diplomat and veteran of the United Nations, Zewde was appointed with a unanimous vote by parliament.
In her first address to parliament, Zewde promised to be a voice for women and stressed the importance of unity.
The appointment joins a series of unprecedented shifts as part of Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed’s reforms focused on easing government control.
Traditionally a ceremonial role, Zewde’s appointment is a tremendously symbolic move for the conservative country, opening the door for gender parity.
Forbes 100 women: Top 10 ranking
According to the latest ranking the German chancellor Angela Merkel was ranked the most powerful woman. She is followed by the British Prime Minister, Theresa May in second place.

Third, fourth and fifth places were occupied by Christine Lagarde (of IMF), Mary Teresa Barra (CEO, General Motors) and Abigail Johnson, CEO of Fidelity Investments respectively.

Other prominent women and their respective positions on the ranking are as follows: Melinda Gates (6th), Federica Mogherini of the E.U. (67th), Ivanka Trump daughter of U.S. president (24th), Oprah Winfrey (20th), Judges of the U.S. Supreme Court (19th).

Queen Elizabeth II (23rd), Myanmar leader Aung San Suu Kyi (33rd), UAE’s Shekiha Lubna Al-Qasim (36th), Croatian President Kolinda Krabar-Kitarovic (47th), Beyonce Knowles (50th) and Norwegian Prime Minister Erna Solberg (35th)



  1. As a matter of being the first female to be a head of state (symbolically) , yes. But as matter of fact , not really! As far as her political and moral ground for the last quarter of a century in which the people have been forced to languish in all kinds of incredible dehumanization is concerned, there is no a real sense of being exemplary. I am sorry to say , but that is what it is !


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