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Meet the world's most powerful women

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A realm of high-flying women across politics, the media, corporate business and technology head up this year's most powerful... list from Forbes magazine. The annual survey ranks women according to influence, wealth and media presence. German chancellor Angela Merkel holds the top spot for the second year running as she continues to battle the Eurozone crisis - which in turn, threatens to overspill to global market economies. New entries on the list include Jennifer Lopez and philanthropist Laurene Powell Jobs, the widow of Apple founder Steve Jobs. Queen Elizabeth II comes in 26th place as the oldest entry, aged 86.

Below we've listed the top 10 most powerful women in the world; women who, in their own various ways, have committed to change - be it political, economic, social or technological - and often in the face of adversity. Come celebrate their achievements and let us know your thoughts in the comments section or on Twitter.

  • 1. Angela Merkel

    Chancellor of Germany

    As the lead player in the Eurozone crisis, German Chancellor Angela Merkel holds her top spot as Forbes' most powerful woman for the second year running. With Greece, Spain, Italy and Portugal all struggling, the world is looking to this "Iron Lady of Europe" to hold things together.

    Key quote: "Nobody in Europe will be abandoned. Nobody in Europe will be excluded. Europe only succeeds if we work together."

  • 2. Hillary Clinton

    US Secretary of State

    Hillary Clinton has played a central role in international politics over the past year, urging Syrian President Bashar Assad to stand down in the face of civil war, keeping an eye on the transition of power in North Korea and managing damaging Wikileaks releases.

    Key quote: "Every nation has to either be with us, or against us. Those who harbour terrorists, or who finance them, are going to pay a price."

  • 3. Dilma Rousseff

    Brazilian President

    As leader of the sixth world largest economy, Dilma Rousseff is working hard to push her country forward - both in terms of eradicating poverty and creating business growth and opportunities for innovation.

    Key quote: "What I want my legacy to be is this country to be increasing middle class, to be highly competitive and highly educated."

  • 4. Melinda Gates

    Co-Chair, Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation

    This year has seen Melinda Gates pledge $560 million of her and Bill's personal fortune to improving access to contraception to women in the world's most deprived regions: just one more step forward for one of society's wealthiest and most generous philanthropists.

    Key quote: "The premise of this foundation is one life on this planet is no more valuable than the next."

  • 5. Jill Abramson

    Executive Editor, New York Times Co

    The New York Times' first female executive editor is busy navigating one of the world's most respected publications into the heart of the digital age, with a website paywall and over 40 million unique users per month.

    Key quote: "You can’t be perceived as someone who is always inside your office or glued to your computer screen. You have to be moving around and dropping in on brainstorming sessions in various departments"

  • 6. Sonia Gandhi

    President, National Congress Party in India

    Sonia Gandhi is the longest-serving player in the history of the Indian National Congress Party and has fought cancer in the past year as well as overseeing strong economic growth in her country. She's also faced allegations of political corruption and has pulled her party through poor election results.

    Key quote: "An economy growing at 7 percent per year, can and must find the resources to improve the lives of its millions of poor."

  • 7. Michelle Obama

    US First Lady

    Michelle Obama has had a good year, representing her country's Olympic delegation in London 2012, developing her mission to end childhood obesity and playing a key role in her husband's re-election campaign. Her approval ratings remain strong, around the 66% mark.

    Key quote "I was surrounded by extraordinary women in my life who taught me about quiet strength and dignity."

  • 8. Christine Lagarde

    Managing Director, International Monetary Fund

    As the first female head of the IMF, Christine Lagarde has been at the forefront of the Eurozone debt crisis this year, as she and Angela Merkel - personal friends who disagree over how to handle the emergency - decide how best to move forward and avoid future meltdown.

    Key quote "The world runs the risk of a downward spiral of uncertainty"

  • 9. Janet Napolitano

    Secretary, Department of US Homeland Security

    Heading up the third largest department in US politics (and the first woman to do so), Janet Napolitano holds down one of Washington's toughest posts. She's been credited with increasing deportations of illegal immigrants, restoring the image of the Federal Emergency Management Agency, and helping to install a new airport screening system to stop potential terrorists from entering the US.

    Key quote: "It would be unwise to say the least, irresponsible of us at the Homeland Security Department not to evolve our technology to match the changing threat environment that we inhabit."

  • 10. Sheryl Sandberg

    COO, Facebook

    Sheryl Sandberg is Facebook's first female board member and, as such, is one of the few prominent women in the technology sector. She owns nearly $1 billion of unvested stock in the company after overseeing its controversial IPO in May this year.

    Key quote: "I do believe in women and men having both a successful career and family. The more women we get into positions of power, the more likely we'll get that."

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