The 10 Most Influential Women Leaders of 2020


Time 100 is an annual listicle of the 100 most influential people in the world, assembled by the American News Magazine Time. First published in 1999 as the result of a debate among American academics, politicians, and journalists, the list is now a highly publicized annual event. Appearing on the list is often seen as an honor, and Time makes it clear that entrants are recognized for changing the world, regardless of the consequences of their actions.

Influence is hard to measure, and what The Time 100  look for is people whose ideas, whose example, whose talent, whose discoveries transform the world we live in. Influence is less about the hard power of force than the soft power of ideas and example. Yes, there are presidents and dictators who can change the world, but Time 100 is more interested in innovators.

In this article we are focused in The 10 Most Influential Women Leaders of 2020, based on Time 100/2020 Leader’s Category.

The 10 Most Influential Women Leaders of 2020 1

Kamala Harris


Kamala Harris has always been a trailblazer. She broke barriers in California, made history in the U.S. Senate, and now she’s the first Black woman and first Indian American to be nominated for Vice President by a major political party.

Kamala’s nomination is the realization of a dream that so many have struggled for so long to make possible. She was raised by a strong woman rooted in community to be a strong woman rooted in community. Her life and career have been defined by a fierce commitment to public service and an abiding belief in government as a force for good.

I’ve been honored to work alongside Kamala in Congress and to bear witness to her passion, tenacity and dedication. In a moment when our communities are facing overlapping crises of public healtheconomic inequality and systemic racism, we’ve stood shoulder to shoulder to legislate together against discrimination in the response to COVID-19 and to support our local Black businesses.

Kamala every day embodies the beliefs and expectations of little girls and young women who see themselves in her. We speak of our elders and we say, “We are, because of them.” Years from now, a generation of young people will look at Kamala and say, “We are, because of her.”

Pressley is a Democratic Congresswoman from Massachusetts

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Angela Merkel


Angela Merkel is an unusual politician. Many are fond of quick fixes and crowd-pleasing slogans, but Angela likes complex problems. She has the capacity to factor in many external and internal considerations when working toward a solution. She takes a long view and, where possible, avoids saying too much too soon.

As a minister in her government from 2005, I was able to benefit on a number of occasions from her strategic patience. When I was convinced by an idea or a project and wanted to forge ahead, she would simply say, “You’re taking the right course. But let’s wait a bit.” And when the time was right, I could always rely on her. Angela is a tough negotiator. Despite all her years in office, she can still look any opposite number in the eye. She achieves her negotiating goals in ways that also allow all parties to reach compromise. We saw this play out in the financial crisis, the euro crisis and now the coronavirus crisis. Although she is sparing with her words, people all over the world know that they can trust Angela, especially when a storm is gathering.

Crises always help separate the wheat from the chaff, including in government. That she is being honored today says everything you need to know.

Von der Leyen is president of the European Commission

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Ursula von der Leyen


Ursula von der Leyen is a politician who relishes a challenge and is undeterred by adversity. Originally a trained physician, she has been a top-ranking German politician for 14 years, including as Germany’s first female Defense Minister—a truly multifaceted Powerfrau. She will undoubtedly serve Europe well as the first female President of the European Commission, a role she assumed in December. She aspires to a Europe that is carbon-neutral by 2050, fit for the digital age and resilient to global challenges.

As a mother of seven children and head of an organization with around 32,000 staff members, Ursula is an accomplished multitasker. Her faculty for keeping calm and carrying on has helped her face the worst economic shock since World War II: the COVID-19 crisis. In May she proposed a €750 billion recovery fund, which was endorsed by E.U. leaders nearly two months later. True to her elegant style and calm temperament, she epitomized grace under pressure even when pushing through this historic deal.

Lagarde is president of the European Central Bank

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Nancy Pelosi


On Jan. 3, 2019, Nancy D’Alesandro Pelosi retook the reins as Speaker of the most diverse Congress ever, in the midst of the longest government shutdown in American history.

Since that moment, the country has careened from crisis to crisis, including children caged at the border, the impeachment of the President, a possible war with Iran, the COVID-19 pandemic, an economic recession and rising tension connected to police violence. In these turbulent waters, Speaker Pelosi has masterfully captained the ship.

Pelosi is a legendary negotiator. Her work on the U.S.-Mexico-Canada trade agreement and the pandemic-relief CARES Act transformed both bills into legislation that works for everyday Americans, not just the wealthy and well-connected. Amid a constitutional crisis, she led the way through a historic impeachment in a solemn and sober fashion to reaffirm the long-standing principle that no one is above the law.

With an unyielding focus on results, Speaker Pelosi has brought together an ideologically diverse group of House Democrats to get things done.

Jeffries is a Democratic Congressman from New York and the Democratic caucus chair

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Tsai Ing-wen


President Tsai Ing-wen is a signal lamp casting out China’s looming shadow, conveying to the world that Taiwan will not acquiesce to the Chinese Communist Party.

While Taiwan stands a mere 100 miles from mainland China, under President Tsai’s leadership, it is neither adrift nor drawn in. Freedom is its North Star, which has been clear in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemicTaiwan has proved that the virus can be controlled—without emulating China’s drastic policies.

When cynics said Taiwan was too small and too isolated to stand up against China’s regional ambitions, President Tsai stood tall. When China lured Taiwan’s allies into cutting off ties with the island nation, President Tsai was undeterred. I had the honor of meeting President Tsai last year during Taiwan’s National Day celebrations, and I witnessed firsthand how she stands up for the rights of Taiwan’s people.

China is the world’s largest communist regime, and this self-made woman is determined to resist it. She does not cower.

Cruz is a Republican Senator from Texas

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Anne Hidalgo


Five years ago, leaders from nearly every country on earth gathered in the City of Light to sign the historic Paris Agreement, setting a road map for the world to reduce greenhouse emissions that are warming our planet. The host of that epic event was the mayor of Paris, Anne Hidalgo, who has further burnished her city’s legacy as a leader in the movement to solve the climate crisis since then. Even in the midst of confronting the global pandemic, Mayor Hidalgo has turned Paris into a shining example of how cities can lead the transition to cleaner, healthier and more prosperous societies. She is transforming the city’s landscape to make it friendlier to pedestrians and bikers, cutting car traffic and making the air safer to breathe.

In our increasingly urban world, there is so much opportunity for cities—which are already responsible for 70% of global greenhouse-gas emissions—to lead the global fight. Mayor Hidalgo is a visionary leader—the kind of leader who demonstrates how local action can solve the climate crisis.

Gore is a former Vice President of the U.S., and founder and chairman of the Climate Reality Project

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Mary Kay Henry


When COVID-19 hit and governors across the U.S. began implementing shutdowns this spring, my phone rang. It was Mary Kay Henry. Politicians were talking about “essential workers.” Crowds were cheering at the shift changes outside hospitals. But as the leader of Service Employees International Union (SEIU), one of the largest labor unions in America, which represents millions of health care workers, among others, Mary Kay knew we needed to hear from the workers themselves. We agreed to co-host a weekly web show called Walkout Wednesdays as a virtual picket line where they could tell their stories. Meanwhile, she continued to advocate and win protections for workers on the front lines, including PPE guarantees, hazard pay, extended health care and paid sick leave. Now she’s working to help get them to the polls.

Poor and low-income Americans have gotten poorer in this pandemic, even as billionaires and banks have seen their wealth increase. Mary Kay knows that our democracy cannot endure this extreme inequality. But she also knows that poor and low-income people of every color and creed can revive the heart of this democracy when they are empowered to rise up together and build a society that works for all of us. This is why she fights to give them a voice.

Barber is president of Repairers of the Breach and co-chair of the Poor People’s Campaign: A National Call for Moral Revival

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Nemonte Nenquimo


Last year, the Amazon was better known for acres ablaze than for acres saved. But the lawsuit that Nemonte Nenquimo, president of the Waorani of Pastaza and a co-founder of the Ceibo Alliance, brought forth was a rare bright spot. The landmark ruling protects the Waorani’s ancestral home in Ecuador from immediate destruction. The ripples have brought hope to Indigenous communities everywhere, all too often facing overwhelming odds of their own. Nemonte lives her fight, and to have a conversation with her is to witness a rare clarity of purpose. I remember she once told me that she wasn’t going to give up. That she was going to keep fighting. That she would continue to defend the forest that she loves from the industries and the oil companies that would devour it.

She has kept her word, and continues to be a voice and advocate for her community. Nemonte’s cause is all our cause. She inspires those she speaks with to shoulder the nearest boulder and walk alongside her as her movement continues to grow. I am lucky to have met her, and I am luckier still to have learned from her.

DI CAPRIO is an Academy Award – winning actor and environmentalist

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Jung Eun-kyeong


South Korea’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic has become a global exampleDr. Jung Eun-kyeong, commissioner of the Korea Disease Control and Prevention Agency (KDCA), has led the nation’s antivirus efforts to success by candidly interacting with the public, based on the principles of openness, transparency and democracy.

When the first COVID-19 case was confirmed in Korea, Commissioner Jung stood before the people. Since then, she has personally held daily briefings to release transparent updates on the number of confirmed cases; the origins of their infections; and the latest figures on tests, quarantine and treatment. The public, in return, has exhibited the power of solidarity and cooperation by voluntarily following individual hygiene rules such as wearing face masks, washing hands frequently and observing social distancing.

Bernard Rieux in Albert Camus’ The Plague says, “The only way to fight the plague is with decency.” I believe Commissioner Jung’s decency and dedication are indeed a story worth ­telling—one that will serve as an inspiration for the many Commissioner Jungs around the world desperately fighting COVID-19, and for humanity as we advance toward the post-COVID-19 era.

Moon is the President of South Korea

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Bonnie Castillo


As a registered nurse and executive director of National Nurses United and the California Nurses Association, Bonnie Castillo is a visionary and a leader. She was among the first to call attention to the lack of personal protective equipment (PPE) available to nurses across the U.S. during the COVID-19 pandemic, and fought layoffs and pay cuts that nurses faced despite their vital frontline work.

Bonnie’s commitment to the labor movement and unions is unwavering; she states that unions are the foundation of a democratic society. Bonnie does not just work to heal patients; she works to heal society. As a mother and grandmother of nurses, I thank Bonnie, and all nurses—including those who have died while serving—for their heroic work in this critical time.

Huerta is a civil rights activist who co-founded what is now the United Farm Workers of America





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