Jacinda Ardern ranked 34th in 'most powerful women' list, down two spots

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern has dropped two positions in Forbes' annual 'world's most powerful women' list, but she still topped a number of other well-known female leaders.

Forbes magazine dropped the 18th edition of its power rankings on Wednesday, revealing the New Zealand Prime Minister at number 34 on a list of 100 powerful women.

That's down from 32 in the 2020 version, but up on 38 in 2019. In 2018, Ardern was ranked 29th.

A profile of Ardern by Forbes focuses mostly on events prior to this year, such as when she "set new norms as a government leader when she gave birth, took six weeks maternity leave and shared that her partner will be a stay-at-home dad". It notes that she won a "landslide" electoral victory last October and received "global praise" in 2020 for her handling of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Forbes says "New Zealand successfully eliminated the virus in both waves", but doesn't mention that Aotearoa has seen record numbers of cases during the Delta outbreak this year, forcing Auckland into lockdown for more than 100 days. It's now expected COVID is here to stay.

A quote from Ardern is also featured. It's from an interview with Newshub Nation's Tova O'Brien last month: "I'm not stopping, I need to carry us through, it’s my job".

So who beat out Ardern?

MacKenzie Scott, the philanthropist previously married to Jeff Bezos, tops the chart. Scott, who was involved in Amazon from the get-go, became one of the world's richest women in 2019 after her divorce from Bezos. She received a large part of his stake in the country. Over the last two years, she has donated more than US$8 billion to charities and has pledged to give away at least half of her wealth over her lifetime.

After Scott is US Vice-President Kamala Harris - who is the first woman to hold the role - followed by Christine Lagarde, the President of the European Central Bank, Mary Barra, the chief executive of General Motors, and Melinda French Gates, the co-chair of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. 

Other figures on the list Kiwis may know include Taiwanese leader Tsai Ing-wen (9), US Speaker Nancy Pelosi (15), talk show host Oprah Winfrey (23), singers Rihanna (68), Beyonce Knowles (76) and Taylor Swift (78), Queen Elizabeth II (70), actress Reese Witherspoon (74), and former Australian Prime Minister Julia Gillard (93).

Last year's top-ranked woman, German Chancellor Angela Merkel is no longer on the list after resigning from her role. She had reigned supreme on the rankings for a decade.