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Who Are The Most Powerful Moms in the World?

Wangari Maathai, powerful mothers

Wangari Maathai, one of the world's most powerful mothers, died Sunday.

I’m sad to share the news that Kenyan environmental and women’s rights activist Wangari Maathai passed away on Sunday after a year-long battle with cancer at the age of 71.  Maathai was Africa’s first female Nobel Peace Prize winner and was known around the world as the woman who drastically improved people’s lives through the simple act of planting trees. Maathai founded The Green Belt Movement and is listed as one of Babble’s 100 Moms Who Are Changing the World.

There are thousands of mothers out there working tirelessly day in and day out to have a similar positive impact, both on a local and global scale.  Here at Babble, we announced our winning Mominees yesterday, otherwise unknown mothers celebrated in ten categories for the leadership and strength they exhibit in their communities.  On an international level, most of the world’s most powerful women as ranked by Forbes magazine are mothers.  In fact, of the 25 most powerful women in the world, 19 of them spent time changing diapers as they changed the game in business, entertainment and politics.  So who are the most powerful mothers in the world? And what do they value?  Take a look:

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  • U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton 1 of 19
    U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton
    She's the most powerful mom in the world! Former First Lady and current Secretary of State Hillary Clinton is rumored to be seeking the top spot at the World Bank, according to Forbes. Her daughter, Chelsea Clinton, married in May 2010.
  • Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff 2 of 19
    Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff
    Dilma Rousseff is the first woman to have been elected President of Brazil. In 2005, she became the country's first female Chief of Staff. Rousseff presides over Latin America's largest economy and has one daughter and a grandson.
  • Indra Nooyi, CEO of PepsiCo 3 of 19
    Indra Nooyi, CEO of PepsiCo
    According to Forbes, Nooyi is in charge of "the largest food and beverage business in the U.S. Nooyi oversees a staff of almost 300,000 worldwide and is one of just a handful of top female, minority CEOs." In light of the global obesity crisis, they add, Nooyi is expanding Pepsi's $13 billion nutritional portfolio to $30 billion by 2020, with more fruits and vegetables, grains, dairy and sports products. Nooyi has two children.
  • Melinda Gates 4 of 19
    Melinda Gates
    Melinda Gates appeared on The Colbert Report last night to address problems in U.S. schools. Colbert asked Gates, co-founder of The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, "Which is a greater challenge: eradicating disease, or improving America's schools?" Her answer? Improving our schools. Gates and her husband have committed to contributing 90% of their wealth to charity, leading Colbert to joke that the couple will only leave 10% of 60 billion dollars to their three children.
  • Sonia Gandhi 5 of 19
    Sonia Gandhi
    Forbes reports, "Sonia Gandhi was unanimously re-elected President of India's Congress Party for the fourth time in 2010, making her the longest serving chief in the party's history. Born in Italy, Gandhi's connection to India began when she married Rajiv Gandhi, the heir to the Nehru-Gandhi political dynasty in 1968." She has two children.
  • FLOTUS, Michelle Obama 6 of 19
    FLOTUS, Michelle Obama
    Forbes notes, "The first lady keeps a high profile with her mission to end childhood obesity and her stylish fashion picks. This year the Harvard Law School grad orchestrated the launch of the new nutritional standard info graphic My Plate with the USDA." You're no doubt familiar with her daughters, Sasha and Malia.
  • Christine Lagarde, IMF Head 7 of 19
    Christine Lagarde, IMF Head
    According to Forbes, "Christine Lagarde made history in June when she was named the first woman to head the IMF after exiting chief Dominique Strauss-Kahn resigned amidst accusations of sexual assault. Though French-born, Lagarde has spent nearly half her life in the U.S." Lagarde has two children, and talks in this Guardian article about the guilty feelings she had while raising her kids during her years as a high-powered lawyer.
  • Irene Rosenfeld, Kraft CEO 8 of 19
    Irene Rosenfeld, Kraft CEO
    "As the leader of the world's second largest food maker, Rosenfeld oversees 127,000 employees and sales in 170 countries," Forbes reports. Her definition of power sounds a lot like a successful definition of motherhood: "Servant leadership. I'm here to help the organization accomplish its objectives rather than employees being here to meet my needs." Rosenfeld has two children.
  • Jill Abramson, NYT Executive Editor 9 of 19
    Jill Abramson, NYT Executive Editor
    As Forbes notes, "On September 6, Jill Abramson [became] the first female executive editor of the New York Times in its 160 years. She is charged with guiding a 1200-person newsroom through a tumultuous digital transition." Abramson is a native New Yorker and has two children.
  • Kathleen Sebelius, U.S. Secretary of Health and Human Services 10 of 19
    Kathleen Sebelius, U.S. Secretary of Health and Human Services
    Forbes reports, "Kathleen Sebelius's most pressing concern is prepping for 2010's sweeping health care reform law, which aims to expand coverage to 32 million Americans who are currently uninsured. The former Kansas governor's two years in the Cabinet have seen her champion a variety of causes, including Michelle Obama's "Let's Move!" initiative, dating violence and teen bullying awareness." Sebelius is the mother of two children.
  • Google’s Susan Wojcicki 11 of 19
    Google's Susan Wojcicki
    Susan Wojcicki, SVP of Advertising at Google, oversaw the company's acquisitions of YouTube and DoubleClick, acquired for $1.65 and $3.1 billion, respectively, and is the brain behind the amazing Google Doodles. She's responsible for 96% of Google's revenues, $28.2 billion in 2010, and is the mother of four children.
  • Argentine President Cristina Fernandez 12 of 19
    Argentine President Cristina Fernandez
    Like Brazil's Dilma Rousseff, Cristina Fernandez is the first elected female president of Argentina. Her husband served as president before her until he unexpectedly died last year. The couple had two children together. According to Forbes, "Under her administration the economy sharply grew, pension and child welfare benefits increased and the poverty rate fell from 21% in 2006 to 11.3% in 2009."
  • Beyonce Knowles, Singer 13 of 19
    Beyonce Knowles, Singer
    Technically, R&B superstar Beyonce Knowles isn't a mother - yet. The singer announced her pregnancy on the MTV Video Music Awards last month. Her earnings as of August 2011 were $35,000,000. I think her baby will be just fine.
  • Georgina Rinehart, Tycoon 14 of 19
    Georgina Rinehart, Tycoon
    Forbes on Rinehart: "Australia's richest individual (net worth of $9 billion), she is set to become the world's richest next year. She's investing heavily in a campaign against Australia's environmental reforms, including taxes on extractive industries like mining that have a heavy carbon footprint. In addition, she's attracting controversy for subsidizing the work of scientists who deny manmade climate change." And she's got four kids. Does she not care about what happens to them?
  • Cher Wang, HTC 15 of 19
    Cher Wang, HTC
    "Cher Wang made a fortune manufacturing phones and gadgets sold under other companies' brands; now she is getting even richer by marketing them under her own company, HTC, which reported revenues of $9.8 billion in 2010 and is the maker of more than one out of every 5 smartphones," Forbes says. She has two children and is the richest person in Taiwan with an estimated net worth at $6.8 billion.
  • Margaret Hamburg, FDA Commisioner 16 of 19
    Margaret Hamburg, FDA Commisioner
    From Forbes: "After expressing concern over the FDA's ability to regulate the growing number of imported goods, this year she outlined a plan to better monitor the millions of shipments of imported foods and drugs each year via global coalitions of regulators, increasing inspection targets and a better communication system. In a bold move, the FDA recently revealed new cigarette labels featuring nine graphic, disturbing images--from a cadaver to rotten teeth--to illustrate the health hazards of smoking." Hamburg has two children.
  • Michele Bachmann 17 of 19
    Michele Bachmann
    Presidential candidate Bachmann has been in the news almost constantly for the last six months, most recently for claiming that the HPV vaccine could harm girls. Bachmann and her husband Marcus homeschooled their five children and raised 23 foster children, all teenage girls. Wow. (I'm guessing none of the kids are gay.)
  • Mary Schapiro, SEC 18 of 19
    Mary Schapiro, SEC
    Schapiro is the first female chair of the Securities and Exchange Commission and is "focused on reigning in high-frequency trading, challenging Wall Street bonuses, offering greater rewards to whistleblowers and considering whether to allow floating money-market funds," according to Forbes. She has two children.
  • Disney’s Anne Sweeney 19 of 19
    Disney's Anne Sweeney
    Sweeney has two children, who must love the perks their mother's job offers. The co-Chair of Disney Media Networks and President of Disney/ABC Television group oversees thousands of employees and her programming decisions reach a billion people each month.

Click here to view the entire list of the most powerful women in the world at Forbes.com.

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