Asia-Pacific Women Make Big Gains on Forbes 'Most Powerful' List

Clockwise, from upper left: Indra Nooyi; Julia Gillard; Yingluck Shinawatra; Aung San Suu Kyi.

Are Asia-Pacific women becoming more powerful? Or is the rest of the world finally just taking notice? If you take stock in lists like Forbes' "World's Most Powerful Women" — and we know that you do — it appears women from the region are increasingly considered forces to be reckoned with. The 2011 list of 100 female leaders in politics, business, entertainment and the non-profit world, released yesterday, features 17 women from Asia-Pacific, up from eight in 2010 (and 12 in 2009). A dozen of this year's Asia-Pacifc representatives are new entrants to the list — and three of them made their debuts in the top-20.

The diverse group of women on this year's list are ranked by dollars, power and (newly-added) social media influence. Topping the list is German Chancellor Angela Merkel. The youngest is 25-year-old Lady Gaga, who at number 11 beat Oprah Winfrey by three spots. U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton comes in at number two as a global foreign policy icon. As Forbes is primarily a U.S. publication, its line-up was perhaps understandably heavily tilted toward Americans: 65 out of 100.

Two of the 17 Asia-Pacific region listees immigrated to the U.S. Eight are from business, four are from politics, two are billionaires and the other three are working in the non-profit sector. The highest-ranked Asian is PepsiCo CEO Indra Nooyi, coming in at No. 4.

Asia-Pacific women who lost their power in the last calendar year (according to Forbes, at least) include Chua Sock Koong, Group Chief Executive, Singapore Telecommunications (ranked 79, in 2010), Shikha Sharma, Chief Executive, Axis Bank (89), and Sun Yafeng, Chair, Huawei Technologies (90).

Below the list of the Asia-Pacific women who made the list with their change from 2010 marked in parentheses ("NR" means they were not ranked last year).

What do you think? Who should be there and who shouldn't be? Nominate your Asia-Pacific power woman in the comments field below. Here at Asia Society, we're really interested in women's leadership. Take a look at some of our initiatives and click on the links below to see who spoke here.

4. (+2) Indra Nooyi, Chief Executive, PepsiCo — United States (Hometown: Chennai, India)

7. (NR) Sonia Gandhi, President, Indian National Congress Party — India

19. (NR) Georgina Rinehart, Mining Tycoon — Australia

20. (NR) Cher Wang, Co-founder, Chair, HTC; VIA Technologies — Taiwan

23. (+35) Julia Gillard, Prime Minister - Australia

26. (NR) Aung San Suu Kyi, General Secretary, National League For Democracy - Myanmar

32. (+24) Gail Kelly, CEO, Westpac Group - Australia

33. (NR) Chan Laiwa & family, Chair, Fu Wah International Group - China

39. (NR) Jin Sook Chang, Co-founder, Chief - United States (Hometown: Pusan, South Korea)

43. (+49) Chanda Kochhar, CEO, ICICI Bank - India

48. (NR) Zhang Xin & family, Co-founder, CEO, SOHO China - China

50. (NR) Helen Clark, Administraor, UN Development Programme - New Zealand

59. (NR) Yingluck Shinawatra, Prime Minister - Thailand

65. (NR) Sri Mulyani Indrawati, Managing Director, World Bank - Indonesia

68. (NR) Margaret Chan, Director-General, World Health Organization - China

72. (-42) Ho Ching, CEO, Temasek Holdings - Singapore

99. (NR) Kiran Mazumdar-Shaw, Founder, Chair, Biocon - India

The full list for 2011 can be viewed at Forbes' website.

About the Author

Profile picture for user Shreeya Sinha
Shreeya Sinha is an award-winning Journalist, Multimedia Producer and Social Media Editor for Asia Society. She was raised in Nigeria, Zimbabwe, Vietnam, Bangladesh, and India.