Here are the 10 Black women featured in Forbes’ 2023 World’s 100 Most Powerful Women

BY Ben Ebuka Oji December 11, 2023 11:17 AM EDT

As we approach the end of 2023, we acknowledge the remarkable influence of Black women who have made significant contributions to the world. Based on Forbes’ recent comprehensive list of ‘The World’s 100 Most Powerful Women,’ we highlight the exceptional Black female CEOs, entertainers, politicians, philanthropists, and policymakers making a transformative impact on society today. This list showcases individuals from various sectors, including government, business, and the arts, who possess a progressive and forward-thinking approach to power.

In the latest edition of Forbes’ annual ranking released in the final month of 2023, Ursula von der Leyen, the President of the European Commission, maintained her position as the top-ranked woman for the second consecutive year. Following closely behind are Christine Lagarde, the President of the European Central Bank, and Kamala Harris, the Vice President of the United States, who retained their respective rankings at number two and three.

“In a year overshadowed by turbulent uncertainty and instability, the world’s most powerful women are leveraging their influence beyond traditional realms to drive profound transformation,” said Moira Forbes, Executive Vice President at Forbes. “As we grapple with a global convergence of crises, the need for their leadership has never been more evident or urgent.”

The 2023 ranking showcases women from various fields, including business, technology, finance, media and entertainment, politics and policy, and philanthropy. Forbes utilized four key metrics, namely money, media, impact, and spheres of influence, to determine the rankings within each category and the overall rank on the list of 100.

Significantly, there was a notable decline in the ranks of the world’s most influential women during the early months of 2023. Between January and April, prominent figures such as Sanna Marin, Jacinda Ardern, Nicola Sturgeon, Susan Wojcicki, and Martina Merz either lost their positions or voluntarily stepped down and were replaced by men.

Nevertheless, the movement towards female empowerment gained traction throughout the summer season. In May, Robyn Grew achieved a historic milestone by becoming the inaugural woman to head the Man Group, a hedge fund boasting $161 billion in assets. Following suit, in June, Debra Crew, a U.S. Army veteran, assumed a leadership position at Diageo, a prominent player in the alcohol industry, thereby joining the ranks of the few female CEOs within the top 100 companies listed on the London Stock Exchange. Furthermore, the collective impact of Taylor Swift, Beyoncé, and Barbie resulted in a substantial surge in consumer spending, amounting to billions of dollars.

Interestingly, Barbie secured the 100th position, a spot traditionally reserved for a figure that may not embody the conventional image of power but has nonetheless left a significant impact on the year.

The Forbes’ 2023 World’s 100 Most Powerful Women showcased 10 influential Black women making significant contributions in various fields. These women are shaping the landscape of our world by championing causes such as reproductive autonomy for women in America, advocating for girls’ access to education in Afghanistan, and fighting for personal rights in Iran. They are also working towards protecting women from gender-based violence in conflict zones like Ukraine and Gaza. Additionally, these powerful women are driving actionable climate policies that safeguard the well-being of women in lower-income and agriculture-based economies. The likes of Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala are actively involved in streamlining the ease of doing business and trade relations across continents.

Below are the 10 Black Women featured in Forbes’ 2023 World’s 100 Most Powerful Women.

Kamala Harris

Vice President of the United States, Kamala Harris, made history on January 20, 2021. She became the first woman, the first Black person, and the first South Asian-American to hold the position of U.S. vice president. Kamala Harris has a track record of breaking barriers. In 2016, she became the first Indian-American woman elected to the United States Senate. In 2010, she became the first African-American and first woman to serve as California’s attorney general. Born in Oakland to immigrant parents, with her mother from India and her father from Jamaica, Harris is a native of California. She is also an alumna of Howard University, making her the first graduate of a historically Black college or university to become vice president.

Oprah Winfrey

Oprah Winfrey is widely recognized for her popular talk show, ‘The Oprah Winfrey Show,’ which aired for 25 years. She used the profits from her show and other ventures to build a media and business empire valued at over $2 billion. As of December 7, 2023, Winfrey’s net worth stands at $2.8 billion, making her the wealthiest Black woman in the world.

Thasunda Brown Duckett

Thasunda Brown Duckett assumed the role of president and CEO of TIAA, a retirement and financial services company catering to academic, research, medical, and governmental workers, in 2021. Prior to joining TIAA, she served as the CEO of Chase Consumer Banking at JPMorgan Chase, overseeing a network with over $600 billion in deposits and 50,000 employees. Duckett’s earlier career included working at Fannie Mae, where she led initiatives to increase homeownership rates among Black and Hispanic Americans. She is involved in various boards, including Nike, the Robert F. Kennedy Human Rights organization, Sesame Workshop, and the National Medal of Honor Museum.

Beyoncé Knowles

Beyoncé Knowles, a renowned musician, has accumulated the majority of her wealth through her illustrious music career spanning approximately three decades. In February 2023, she made history by breaking the record for the highest number of Grammy wins, securing a remarkable 32 awards. Additionally, Beyoncé and her husband, Jay-Z, hold the record for the most nominations in history, with an impressive tally of 88 each. In July 2022, Beyoncé released her seventh solo album, ‘Renaissance,’ which received widespread acclaim. This was followed by a highly successful world tour under the same name, commencing in May 2023. The tour became a phenomenal success, with Beyoncé selling a staggering 2.7 million tickets and grossing nearly $600 million across 56 shows, as reported by Pollstar. Furthermore, she expanded the Renaissance brand by collaborating with the esteemed fashion house Balmain, creating a fashion line, and even producing a movie. The film, titled “Renaissance: A Film by Beyoncé,” premiered on December 1 and achieved a remarkable domestic opening weekend gross of $21 million, marking the best debut for an early-December film in the past two decades.


Billionaire Robyn ‘Rihanna’ Fenty, a talented musician and entrepreneur, has become a prominent figure from Barbados due to the immense success of her music career, cosmetics line, Fenty Beauty, and shoe line, Fenty X Puma Avanti. Additionally, Rihanna holds a 30% stake in the Savage x Fenty lingerie line, which garnered significant attention and achieved a valuation of $1 billion in February 2021. In a momentous event, Rihanna headlined the halftime show at Super Bowl LVII in 2023, where she revealed her pregnancy with her second child. In 2022, Rihanna made a highly anticipated return to the music scene after a five-year hiatus, contributing to the soundtrack of the movie “Black Panther: Wakanda Forever.” Her song, “Lift Me Up,” received critical acclaim and earned a nomination for the prestigious Oscar for Best Original Song.

Linda Thomas-Greenfield

Linda Thomas-Greenfield serves as the current U.S. ambassador to the United Nations. Prior to this role, she had an extensive career in the U.S. Foreign Service, spanning over three decades. After retiring in 2017 at 64, Thomas-Greenfield returned to public service. From 2013 to 2017, she served as the Assistant Secretary of State for African Affairs, where she focused on U.S. policy toward sub-Saharan Africa. Additionally, she served as the Director General of the Foreign Service and Director of Human Resources from 2012 to 2013.

Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala

Prominent international economist Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala is the current Director-General of the World Trade Organization (WTO) since March 2021. Notably, she is the first woman and first African to hold this position. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala held the position of Nigeria’s Finance Minister for two terms, from 2003 to 2006 and 2011 to 2015. She also briefly served as the Foreign Minister in 2006. With over three decades of experience, Okonjo-Iweala has worked in various regions, including Asia, Africa, Europe, Latin America, and North America. Okonjo-Iweala is also involved in several boards and organizations, including Danone, Standard Chartered Bank, and the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace. She previously served on the Twitter Board of Directors but stepped down in February 2021 due to her appointment as the Director-General of the WTO.

Samia Suluhu Hassan

Samia Suluhu Hassan, the President of Tanzania, assumed office in March 2021, making history as the country’s first female leader. She ascended to the presidency from her previous role as vice president, a position she assumed in 2015. In September 2021, President Samia Suluhu Hassan became the fifth female African leader to address the U.N. General Assembly, where she used her speech to condemn the unequal distribution of COVID-19 vaccines. Hailing from Zanzibar, she previously served as a minister in the semi-autonomous region from 2000 to 2010. Additionally, she represented the Makunduchi constituency as a Member of Parliament from 2010 to 2015 and held the position of Minister of State in the Vice-President’s Office for Union Affairs during the same period. In 2014, she was elected the vice-chairperson of the Constituent Assembly responsible for drafting Tanzania’s new constitution.

Mo Abudu

Mo Abudu, a Nigerian media mogul and philanthropist, is widely recognized as one of the most influential women in the global media industry. In 2006, she founded EbonyLife TV, a network that broadcasts in over 49 African countries, the UK, and the Caribbean. Throughout the years, EbonyLife TV has forged significant partnerships with renowned entities such as Sony Pictures Television, AMC Networks, and Netflix. Notably, the collaboration with Netflix marked a groundbreaking moment, as the first time an African media company entered into a multi-title film and TV deal with the content streaming platform.

Mia Mottley

Mia Mottley is a prominent Barbadian politician and attorney. She is the current and the eighth Prime Minister of Barbados since 2018 and has been the Leader of the Barbados Labour Party (BLP) since 2008. Notably, Mia Mottley is the first woman to hold both of these esteemed positions. Additionally, she is Barbados’ first prime minister under its republican system. This came about through constitutional changes that she introduced, which abolished the country’s constitutional monarchy and ended the reign of the Queen of England as its head of state. Mia Mottley’s influence extends beyond her political achievements, as she has emerged as a global leader in the fight against climate change. Her efforts in this regard were recognized in 2021 when the United Nations Environment Programme gave her the title of “Champion of the Earth for Policy Leadership.” This recognition followed a powerful speech she delivered to the UN General Assembly, where she passionately called for genuine action on climate-related issues.