2016's most powerful women

A list not based on financial status, but rather skills, creativity and influence making a significant impact in various fields.

Photo by: Reuters
Photo by: Reuters

Serena Williams raises her fist after winning her womens singles final match in Wimbledon on July 9, 2016.

From business to sport, women are breaking barriers and burying old stereotypes.

They're transforming countries, managing multi-national companies and making an impact in various industries.

Our list of the most powerful women in the world is not based on financial status, but rather on skills, creativity and influence which has significant impact in their respective fields.

1. Serena Williams: Tennis star

Serena Williams celebrates winning her womens singles final match in Wimbledon against Germany's Angelique Kerber on July 9, 2016. Image: Reuters.

Serena Williams is the highest-paid female athlete in the world.

According to Forbes, she made around $78 million in 2015.

Despite her riches, the 35-year-old tennis star has been dominating the sport.

Her 2015 season included three Grand Slam titles and only three losses in 56 matches.

After winning Saturday’s Wimbledon final, Williams has reached her career best of 22 Grand Slam titles which equals the record set by tennis great, Steffi Graf.

In addition to her success on the court, she has never shied away from taking action against sexism and racism.

She is also known for her stand with the 'Black Lives Matter' campaign in the US.

2. Angela Merkel: Chancellor of Germany

Angela Merkel doesn't like attention as evident from her expression, a quality which helped this former East German scientist to maneuver her way to top of German politics silently. Image: Reuters

She is probably the most powerful woman in the world and, according to Forbes, she is currently ranked only second to US President Barack Obama.

If a human life matters above everything else then she has even outdone Obama.

Merkel opened up her country for hundreds of thousands of migrants fleeing war in Syria.

And she did that despite criticism, and knowing that her political opponents would use it against her.

She has also been leading efforts to convince other countries to do the same, and tried to stop Britain from voting out of the EU.  

Being the leader of the European Union's biggest economy, she was at the forefront of efforts to revitalise growth in the region following the 2008 global financial crisis.

Under her leadership, Germany bailed out a sinking EU economy.

However, she also took a firm stand on issues which made her unpopular in neighboring countries.

She insisted that Greece must cut back on social benefits to come out of the economic crisis instead of looking at Berlin for a bailout.

3. Christine Lagarde: Head of IMF

Christine Lagarde took over the IMF in 2011 when the global economy was still recovering from a financial crisis. Image: Reuters.

The world knows her as the woman who decides the fate of countries stuck deep in debt.

Born in France in 1956, Christine Lagarde was16 when she lost her father and then saw the struggles of her mother who singlehandedly looked after the whole family.

A year later she was part of the national synchronised swimming team.

From there she went on to graduate as a lawyer, joined the international law firm Baker and McKenzie, and rose to become its first female boss.

She ventured into French politics and ultimately became the first female finance minister for France.

At the time, she was also the first woman to hold that office in any of the G8 countries.

Lagarde joined the IMF in 2011 and became the first woman to head the lender of last resort, at a difficult time for the world economy.

4. Indra Nooyi: Chief Executive Officer of PepsiCo

Indra Nooyi, the CEO of PepsiCo speaks at a conference. Image: Reuters.

India-born American Indra Nooyi has been the Chief Executive Officer of the world's second largest food and beverage giant PepsiCo, since 2006.

Nooyi is one of the few foreign-born executives of either gender in top US corporate ranks.

She served as president prior to becoming CEO in 2001.

As president, she was responsible for PepsiCo’s corporate functions including finance, strategy, business process optimisation, corporate platforms and innovation, procurement, investor relations and information technology.

As CEO, Nooyi directed PepsiCo's global strategy for more than a decade and led the company's restructuring.

She was pivotal in diversifying the company's interests into restaurants by launching Tricon, which is today known as Yum! Brands.

Nooyi also spearheaded the acquisition of Tropicana and was key in the company's merger with Quaker Oats Company, which also brought Gatorade to PepsiCo.

During her initial days in the US, she had worked the graveyard shift in odd jobs to earn extra money.

Today, her total net worth is estimated at $144 million.

5. Susan Wojcicki: YouTube CEO

CEO of YouTube Susan Wojcicki speaks at the garage where Google was founded on Google's 15th anniversary in Menlo Park, California. Image: Reuters.

Susan Wojcicki has been with Google since 1998 when the company worked out of her garage for its first few months.

She has high disregard for the impossible.

Wojcicki introduced the innovative idea to adapt Google’s AdWords into the self-service platform.

She is a huge supporter of females in technology.

Wojcicki launched marketing for the search engine services with a budget of $0.00.

For this, she partnered with universities adding a Google search bar on their websites.

Unshowy and low-key by nature, Wojcicki actually spearheaded Google’s YouTube purchase.

She's been heading YouTube since 2014.

The dominance of Google’s search engine is a result of Wojcicki’s hard work.

6. Nkosazana Dlamini Zuma: Chairperson of African Union

African Union Commission Chairperson Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma at the African Union summit in Ethiopia's capital Addis Ababa. Image: Reuters.

Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma is an activist and politician who is known for empowering women across the African continent.

When Zuma was born in South Africa in 1949, the future of black women did not go higher than a domestic worker under the apartheid regime.

During her university education, she raised her voice against apartheid.

After the regime collapsed and Nelson Mandela became president, she served as Minister of Health in the post-apartheid cabinet.

In 1999, Zuma was appointed as Minister of Foreign Affairs and created South Africa's foreign policy based on the promotion of human rights, stability and peace in Africa.

In July 2012, Dlamini-Zuma was elected Chairperson of the African Union Commission by the African Union.

She's the first woman to lead this continental organisation.

She's dedicated her life to improving democracy and human rights in Africa and create a better life for all Africans.

7. Janet Yellen: Chair of the Board of Governors of the US Federal Reserve

US Federal Reserve Chair Janet Yellen holds a news conference at the Federal Reserve in Washington. Image: Reuters.

US Federal Reserve Chair Janet Yellen (69) is one of the most powerful and influential women in the world.

As head of the reserve, she has great influence over the US dollar which is used as the main currency of global trade.

She also has the final say over US interest rates which affects the global economy.

The decisions taken by the guardian of the US economy do not affect only the US, but the whole world economy as well.

According to Forbes, Yellen asserts her power by way of plain sentences and easy logic, making it easy to forget that the educated economist is the world's top market-mover.

In 2015 alone, Yellen received two honorary degrees and was ranked number 1 on the Sovereign Wealth Fund Institute's Public Investor 100 list.

Bloomberg Markets also ranked her number 1 in their annual list of the 50 most influential economists and policymakers last year.

Note: This list does not appear in order of importance.