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EXCLUSIVE INTERVIEW WITH FORBES MAGAZINE: 2009 FORBES 100 Most Powerful Women – two African women are in it!

Filed under : Africa, Exclusive Interview

Ellen Johnson SirleafHer Excellency, President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf – President of Liberia

Of course we had to contact the folks at Forbes to get the inside scoop on the recently published Forbes Magazine [you know that really important magazine] list of 100 Most Powerful Women! We were so geeked to see that 2 of our own (as in Africa) made it to the list this year…yeah, yeah, yeah with 1 billion Africans (that’s right, ONE BILLION AFRICANS), there should have been more than 2…we got you…so we had to chat to the Forbes folks about that and more…  Hi, thanks for chatting with us! Ok, let’s get straight to business, the 2009 list just came out, the Forbes 100 Most Powerful Women. How is that list put together, what is the formula, the criteria that determines who ends up on the list?

Forbes: Hi! A number of factors are taken into consideration when compiling the list and ranking the women. One of the primary factors is money. Money?

Forbes: Yes, as in amount of money they operate or oversee. It can be money they personally own or operate in their own company. Or the size of the budget they oversee in a company or non-profit organization. It is the size of their philanthropic work. Another determining factor is their media profile, their influence, reach as in press recognition. So we look at those two factors closely, economic impact and visibility. Naturally we looked at our First Lady, Michelle Obama‘s ranking on the list.  She placed at # 40! (side-bar, side-bar, real quick, at # 41 is friend of the site Oprah! We heart her)

Forbes: She is our first African American First Lady. Very historic. Wife of the President of one of the most powerful nations in the world! At # 40, this is her first year as First Lady so she is building her influence quite naturally. Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton is ranked at #36?

Forbes: Her career has largely been public service, for 20 years at least. As former first lady, senator, presidential nominee and now Secretary of State. In this role she has substantial influence because she meets & interacts with world leaders. Now to our ladies that are representing the continent of Africa. We are always excited and inspired to see African women making it happen and there is plenty of them too! But what about Navi Pillay [United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights. Navi Pillay is South African] that made you include her in the list and rank her at # 64?

Navanethem PillayNavanethem Pillay, High Commissioner for Human Rights, United Nations

Forbes: Well, she has a high profile job and human rights are becoming more and more significant. So when the office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights makes a statement, the world listens! Navi is also using her platform very effectively as the current UN High Commissioner, so that is why we included her. Back on the list, at # 67 is one of our favorite Presidents in the world, President of Liberia, Her Excellency, President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf.

Forbes: As the the first elected Black female head of state, President Johnson Sirleaf is a role model to many women throughout the world. Her life story is inspiring. She is head of a country. So certainly it made sense to include her. Absolutely! We were in Washington DC early this year for her book release, This Child Will Be Great: Memoir of a Remarkable Life by Africa’s First Woman President. President Johnson Sirleaf is an amazing and remarkable woman!

Forbes: Yes, and that is why the list is important now more than ever before. Woman are now taking more risks in their careers and field of endeavors and it is paying off. For us, it is satisfying to know that people worldwide take the list very seriously. And it is an indicator of sorts of the strides women continue to make. It started off as one page in the Forbes magazine, to cover story and now it is picked up all over the world. Women now have a higher profile!

Forbes: Absolutely. It’s so cool to share those profiles with the world. We are a 10 person team and let me share with you that it does not feel like it is a job. We love doing this! Awesome! You have to love what you do! Of course we love keeping our readers in the know, and they would like to know should we expect to see more African women on the list?

Forbes: That’s up to the women of Africa! [smile] Thank you so much for chatting with us!

Forbes: Awesome, thank you for taking interest in our work! Africa has alot of potential!

You heard it first, right here!

ps…kudos to Ursula Burns, CEO of Xerox Corporation. She is ranked at # 14!

farai – who has written posts on Farai Today.

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