Obama’s new ranking ends Merkel’s four-year reign at the top of the magazine’s listing of the most influential women in the world. This year’s rating saw Queen Elizabeth (11) taking a middle dive and taking a motherly retreat to no 41.
Mitchele’s quick track up the list was mirrored by that of her husband’s former rival and now secretary of state Hillary Clinton, who moved up from 36th place last year to crack the top 10, taking fifth place.
German Cancellor, Angela Merkel, who is struggling with a rocky second term in office, was relegated to fourth place behind Kraft Foods CEO Irene Rosenfeld and talkshow host and media mogul Oprah Winfrey.
In compiling this year’s list, the magazine said it opted to “look up and out into the broader culture.”
“Our assessment is based less on traditional titles and roles and more on creative influence and entrepreneurship.”
That might explain why singers Lady Gaga and Beyonce Knowles also made the top ten, at seventh and ninth places respectively, along with openly lesbian US talkshow host Ellen Degeneres, who took tenth place.
At number six was Indra Nooyi, PepsiCo’s chief executive and a perennial inclusion on the list, who fell three places from last year’s rankings.
Rounding out the top ten was Gail Kelly, chief executive of WestPac, who came in at number eight this year.
Despite holding no official position, Forbes said Michelle Obama had proved “a true change-maker since taking lodge in the White House in 2008,” citing her “Let’s Move!” campaign aimed at reducing childhood obesity.
“The first African-American in the post, she’s changed the face of the office (literally), and with consistently high approval ratings, she’s given a new generation of girls and women around the world a role model,” the magazine said.
Female US politicians took top spots in this year’s list, with House of Representatives Speaker Nancy Pelosi in at number 11 and Republican former Alaska governor Sarah Palin making number 16.
Female US Supreme Court Justices Sonia Sotomayor (19), Elena Kagan (25) and Ruth Bader Ginsberg (31) made appearances, as did British Queen Elizabeth II (41), athlete Serena Williams (55) and Costa Rican President Laura Chinchilla (83).
WOMEN OF INFLUENCE TOP TEN
1 Michelle Obama US First Lady
2 Irene Rosenfeld CEO Kraft Foods
3 Oprah Winfrey Talk show host and media mogul
4 Angela Merkel German chancellor
5 Hillary Clinton US Secretary of State
6 Indra Nooyi CEO PepsiCo US
7 Lady Gaga Singer and entertainer
8 Gail Kelly CEO Westpac (Australia)
9 Beyoncé Knowles Singer/fashion designer
10 Ellen DeGeneres Talk show host