Michelle Obama Tops List of World's Most Powerful Women

While her husband Barack is often called the most powerful man on the planet, it appears that his wife is doing her best to give the president of the United States a run for his money.

First Lady Michelle Obama was selected as the world's most powerful woman over heads of state, titans of industry and media powerhouses by Forbes magazine in its annual listings, reports Reuters.

Irene Rosenfeld, the chief executive of Kraft Foods, took the second spot after leading a $18 billion dollar hostile takeover of Cadbury. Oprah Winfrey was third, followed by German Chancellor Angela Merkel and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.

In a change from previous years, the magazine altered the way it compiled its rankings, lessening the importance of material wealth and power and placing a stronger emphasis on creative influence and entrepreneurship.

Moria Forbes, the vice president and publisher of ForbesWoman, said that the women on the list were chosen for their ability to help drive the debate on the matters of the day.

"They have built companies and brands, sometimes by non-traditional means and they have broken through gender barriers in areas of commerce, politics, sports and media and cultural zeitgeist, and thereby affecting the lives of millions, sometimes billions of people," she said.

In last year's rankings, Merkel took the number one spot. She was followed by Sheila Blair, chair of the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC). Obama was ranked number 40.

Obama took the top spot this year because "she has made the office of first lady her own," while maintaining her popularity, said Forbes. She also cited the First Lady's "Let's Move!" initiative to reduce childhood obesity as part of her appeal.

Pepsi CEO Indra Nooyi, Lady Gaga, Gail Kelly of Australia's Westpac Banking Corp., Beyonce Knowles and Ellen DeGeneres rounded out the top 10.

Selected Reading: Reuters, Forbes, E! Online

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