German Chancellor Angela Merkel has been awarded as the most powerful woman in the world on Forbes' annual list - for the 10th time in a row.
Merkel has been the chancellor of Germany for 15 years now. Her tenaciousness, maneuvering, leadership quality and decision making capabilities especially in the moment of crisis has put her into the position of not only the most successful leader of Germany but also a worthy bearer of the free world.
It is said that, no other contemporary leader has seen, done or impacted so much globally as Merkel did in her lifetime as a career politician.
Here are some reasons why the East German-raised politician with a doctorate degree in physical chemistry is considered the most powerful woman on the planet for a decade:
Unparalleled leader of Germany
Merkel took office in 2005 when Germany was going through a tough recession, unemployment rate was high and the country's economy was in turbulence. Her first work as chancellor was to initiate an economic reform by introducing economic stimulus packages and shortening working hours, whereby workers worked less but had their earnings topped up by the government rather than business.
Soon Germany became the fourth most economically powerful nation in the world and richest in Europe. Merkel has astounding popularity in Germany as a politician and empathetic leader for her citizens. She became Germany's most popular politician again in 2020, with an approval rating of 71%
"In the eyes of German voters, Merkel represents stability, calm, steadiness and prosperity," said Thomas Walde, host of a weekly politics show on NBC News' German partner broadcaster ZDF on the eve of Germany's national election in 2017.
De-facto leader of Europe
Merkel almost plays like the role of a monarch whenever the EU is in crisis, the only difference is that in this case she actually holds power rather than an ornamental position. May it be the infamous Greek economic debt crisis in 2007, or the decision to let Syriyan refugees enter the country in 2015 by going against other European nations and even the never ending Brexit crisis - each and every issue had to be mediated by Merkel.
Merkel tried hardest to keep Britain inside the EU. The latest Covid-19 pandemic crisis was another testing situation for her as countries closed borders, started hoarding medical equipments - but she still managed to think beyond Germany and created €750 billion worth European Coronavirus fund convincing 27 nations to agree on this issue.
From China to Iraq, USA to Russia, Brexit to UN - Merkel has played the role of a remarkable leader as a global leader, in terms of crisis. Merkel scored extra points for her foreign policy endeavours, especially with the Russian president, Vladimir Putin, over the Crimea dispute.
In 2014, when no other nation showed strength to stand up to Putin, It was Merkel who stood against his atrocity and threatened him with multiple sanctions having the support of EU leaders.
Merkel has been a constant leading political figure along with multiple US presidents and major political leaders of Europe and Asia. She was given the title of "Leader of the free world" after Donald Trump was elected as US President in 2016.
Succeeding as a woman in a male-oriented party
While not a policy achievement, her very presence as a Protestant, childless, East German woman at the helm of the Christian Democratic Union, a male-dominated, largely Catholic party, with its roots in West Germany, has changed not only the party but arguably also German society.
According to The Guardian, She is Germany's first female political leader and famously left many men behind her on the way up.
Merkel helped turn the deeply traditional party into "one of the pillars of the new German consensus", according to the European council on foreign relations. This has in turn resulted in new policy direction on everything from energy reform to family and women's rights – including the recent decision to introduce female quotas into the boardroom.
Ability to listen to what people say
There is not much found about Merkel's personality in either her public or private roles. As Chancellor, she isn't a flashy person.
According to The Independent, "Her political speeches are uninspired, some would say crushingly boring. They are usually delivered with a deadpan expression in a near-monotone."
But she possesses a unique quality of empathy - always trying to reciprocate what people want through her action. She has a knack for sensing what motivates others and keeping them at the proverbial table. She does this with every tool at her disposal, from sober logic to subtle body language. Just like now, when many other leaders are still retracting themselves from looking at the climate crisis, Merkel is determined to fight this with everything, because that is what today's most pressing issue.
As she said in New York in 2019: "So we must do all that is humanly possible to combat this challenge to humanity. There is still time. I'm dedicating all my strength to making sure Germany does its part — ecologically, economically, socially — to come to grips with climate change."