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National Security Adviser, Bush Administration
Age: 49
Country: U.S.

Advising the leader of the world's largest superpower--and having the ear of leaders around the globe--makes Rice, 49, the most powerful woman in the world. President George W. Bush trusts Rice implicitly, likely more than anyone else in the White House. When Rice speaks, she speaks for the president. With her silver-tongued diplomacy and steely nerve, Rice has played a key, behind-the-scenes role in helping to steer the United States through two wars, as well as the resulting controversies. Rice also served under President George H.W. Bush and in the Reagan administration. Despite growing up with racial segregation in Birmingham, Ala., Rice says her "parents had me absolutely convinced that, well, you may not be able to have a hamburger at Woolworth's but you can be president of the United States."-
Vice Premier, former Vice Mayor of Beijing
Age: 65
Country: China

As the highest-ranking female member of China's Politburo, and a vice premier and minister of health, Wu Yi (pronounced: "Woo Yee") is the most powerful woman in China. Known as "China's Iron Lady," Wu Yi, 65, a former vice mayor of Beijing, is a rising star in China's Communist Party. Proud, elegant, intelligent, Wu Yi impressed her party's leaders when she deftly helped hammer out five trade agreements with Russia in 1999 and oversaw delicate negotiations for China's accession to the World Trade Organization. Surprisingly, Wu Yi never envisioned a life in politics. "In my youth, I never developed a desire to enter politics. My biggest wish was to become a great entrepreneur," she once said.-E.M.
President, Congress Party
Age: 57
Country: India

No other woman in recent times has been more widely revered in India than Gandhi, 57. Gandhi made headlines in May when, after the party she led won India's democratic elections, she declined to take over the prime minister's seat. Now that her chosen successor, Sikh economist Manmohan Singh, has been given the job, Gandhi gets to reign over her beloved country anyway-without having to take responsibility for any mistakes the government might make. With political skills like this, anyone would think she had been born a Gandhi, and not simply had married into India's most famous political dynasty
U.S. First Lady
Age: 57
Country: U.S.

Make no mistake, Laura Bush, 57, is a powerful hand behind the scenes at the White House. The president often refers to her as the most important, guiding force in his life and credits the First Lady with turning him around, thus putting him on the path to the White House. And when it comes to an unruly press, reporters sit up and take note of what Mrs. Bush says, thanks to her calm, commanding and reassuring demeanor. Although the First Lady is a major force in her husband's re-election campaign, depending on the outcome in November, she may cede her power to philanthropist Teresa Heinz Kerry
U.S. Senator
Age: 56
Country: U.S.

Hillary Rodham Clinton, 56, has a knack for being smack in the middle of history. Clinton is the only former First Lady ever elected to the United States Senate and is the first New York Senator to serve on the Senate Armed Services Committee. And Clinton is the first First Lady to survive an unprecedented, withering string of White House scandals, enough to take up years worth of late-night comedy monologues, including the historic impeachment trial of her husband. Talk persists as to whether Clinton will eventually run for president.