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25 Boomer Women Who Rule the World

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    A Gallery of Influential Women

    En español | Around the globe, women of the baby boom generation have risen to the highest levels  in many fields — from business and politics to media and the arts. In honor of Women's History Month, we celebrate these 50+ females who are among the most powerful people on the planet.

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  • Andrew Harrer/Bloomberg via Getty Images

    Jill Abramson, Executive Editor, New York Times

    The 59-year-old Abramson survived internal politics to ascend in 2011 to the top editorial position, where she sets the agenda for one of the world’s most influential newspapers.

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  • EPA/ARNE DEDERT

    Mary Barra, CEO, General Motors

    The daughter of a GM diemaker, Barra remembers the days when car dealers had to cover their windows to hide yet-to-be-unveiled GM models. At age 52, the Stanford MBA faces the tough job of rekindling that sort of consumer excitement while forging a leaner and more profitable GM.

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    Margaret Chan, Director General, World Health Organization

    The 66-year-old Hong Kong-born physician is the only person on the planet with the authority to declare a pandemic, and her strategic decisions about what drugs and treatments to use in battling diseases such as malaria and HIV give her major influence on the pharmaceutical industry’s fortunes.

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    Hillary Clinton, Former Secretary of State

    Clinton, 66, lost her bid to become the first woman elected U.S. president in 2008 but further burnished her résumé as the nation’s chief diplomat. Now she’s leading the 2016 Democratic pack of potential candidates even though she has yet to confirm she will run.  

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    Ellen DeGeneres, Daytime TV Host, LGBT activist

    After DeGeneres, 56, came out in 1997, backlash helped kill her sitcom career. But she bounced back with a hugely successful daytime talk show, proving that Americans could be comfortable with a gay media personality.

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  • Rick Friedman/Corbis

    Drew Gilpin Faust, President, Harvard University

    Faust, 66, was once a Virginia daughter of privilege “raised to be a rich man’s wife,” according to a friend. Instead, the rebellious feminist became a civil rights marcher and respected historian before ascending in 2007 to lead one of the world’s most renowned universities.

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    Cristina Fernández de Kirchner, President of Argentina

    The widow of her predecessor, Néstor Kirchner, she became the first woman elected as Argentina’s president in 2007, making her even more powerful than Eva Perón. Kirchner, 61, has managed to pare her nation’s debt, stimulate job growth and sign a law legalizing gay marriage.

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  • SAJJAD HUSSAIN/AFP/Getty Images

    Sonia Gandhi, President, Indian National Congress Party

    Gandhi, 67, is the Italian-born widow of former Indian Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi, who was assassinated in 1991. She eventually followed in his political footsteps, becoming the head of her adopted country’s ruling political party and one of its most influential leaders.

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    Melinda Gates, Cochair, Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation

    Married to a Microsoft cofounder, she leads an organization that has awarded billions in grants to eradicate polio and increase world access to contraception. Gates, 49, says the foundation’s job is “to make bets on promising solutions that governments and businesses can’t afford.” 

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  • UPI Photo/Dominic Bracco II

    Helene Gayle, President and CEO, CARE USA

    The pediatrician, 58, worked for 20 years for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, much of it as an epidemiologist trying to stem the spread of HIV. She led the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation’s efforts against tuberculosis and HIV before joining CARE in 2006.

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  • Julia Schmalz/Bloomberg via Getty Images

    Margaret Hamburg, Commissioner, Food and Drug Administration

    The Harvard-educated physician, 58, became the U.S. Food and Drug Administration chief in 2009. As such, she presides over one of the most powerful regulatory agencies on the planet, which ultimately determines which drugs are safe and effective enough to make it into American consumers’ medicine cabinets.

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    Arianna Huffington, Editor in Chief, Huffington Post Media Group, AOL

    The 63-year-old Greek-born, Cambridge-educated Huffington had an early career as a best-selling biographer (Maria Callas, Pablo Picasso), but that is almost forgotten thanks to the Huffington Post, one of the most-read news portals on the Web. The site won a Pulitzer Prize in 2012.

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    Christine Lagarde, Managing Director, IMF

    The French-born lawyer, 58, who previously held key posts in her nation’s cabinet, became the first woman to head the International Monetary Fund in 2011. As leader of a 188-nation cooperative that provides funds to cash-strapped nations, Lagarde is a key player in maintaining global economic stability.

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    Risa Lavizzo-Mourey, President/CEO Robert Wood Johnson Foundation

    Lavizzo-Mourey, 59, heads the fourth-largest charitable foundation in the U.S., and the largest focused exclusively on health care. A physician who specialized in geriatrics, she’s a supporter of Obamacare and assists states in implementing ACA reforms.

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    Madonna, Entertainer

    In 1984, Madonna told American Bandstand host Dick Clark her ambition was "to rule the world." Now 55, the singer, dancer and actress has put an enduring stamp upon pop culture with flamboyant, erotically charged performances that paved the way for Lady Gaga and Miley Cyrus.

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    Angela Merkel, Chancellor of Germany

    Merkel, 59, elected as Germany’s first female chancellor in 2005, has a doctorate in physics, but she's been more influential as the leader of Europe’s biggest economy. "She is widely seen as a safe pair of hands in tough times" by German voters, BBC News opines.

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    Park Geun-hye, President of South Korea

    Park, 62, the daughter of assassinated South Korean President Park Chung-hee, has a degree in engineering but was thrust into politics and became the nation’s first female president in 2013. Confronting the threat of a nuclear-armed North Korea, her decisions have broad-reaching impact.

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    Miuccia Prada, Owner, Prada

    As the lead designer for the fashion company founded by her grandfather, Prada, 64, has built one of the world’s signature brands, one synonymous with chic luxury. Forbes magazine estimates her personal worth at $12.4 billion, making her one of the richest women on the planet.

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    Condoleezza Rice, Former U.S. Secretary of State

    Now on the Stanford faculty, Rice, 59, has an inspiring biography, from her childhood in the still-segregated South to her ascent as the first African American woman to serve as White House national security adviser and second-ever woman to serve as secretary of state.

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    Virginia Rometty CEO, IBM

    Rometty, 56, maintains a lower profile than other women in her field, such as Yahoo’s Marissa Mayer or Hewlett-Packard’s Meg Whitman. Spearheading IBM’s shift into cloud computing and analytic consulting before becoming its first female chief in 2012, she arguably has had more success.

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    Dilma Rousseff, President of Brazil

    In her youth, she was a guerrilla who fought against her nation’s then-military dictatorship and survived imprisonment and torture. After her release, the indomitable Rousseff, 66, gradually built a career in mainstream politics, and in 2011 was inaugurated as Brazil’s first female president.

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    Sonia Sotomayor, Associate Justice, U.S. Supreme Court

    The Bronx-born daughter of a Puerto Rican tool and die maker, Sotomayor, 59, watched Perry Mason on TV and was inspired to study law. Educated at Yale Law School, she was nominated to the high court by President Obama, and in 2009 became the nation’s third female justice and the first Latina.

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  • Rich Polk/WireImage

    Meryl Streep, Actress

    The New Jersey native's breakthrough was The Deer Hunter in 1978. Since then, Streep, 64, has won three Oscars portraying a daunting range of characters, from a Polish Holocaust survivor to a former British prime minister. She’s proof that there’s a place for older actresses in Hollywood.

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    Meg Whitman, CEO, HP

    The Long Island native, 57, helped build eBay into a commercial juggernaut from 1998 to 2008, before spending $144 million of her own fortune to run unsuccessfully for the California governorship in 2010. Whitman’s business savvy still garnered respect, and in 2011 she was tapped to lead Hewlett-Packard.

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  • Gregg DeGuire/WireImage

    Oprah Winfrey, Entrepreneur, Actress, Entertainment Executive

    Winfrey, 60, radically reshaped daytime TV, eschewing tabloid trashiness in favor of good books and serious social issues. She’s built a successful magazine and cable TV network that seems to have found a groove. The multitalented entrepreneur also recently starred in Lee Daniels’ The Butler.

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AARP Boomers at 50 Plus

As the last of the Baby Boomer Generation turns 50 and more baby boomers are retiring, AARP celebrates the generation that changed the world.

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