3. Dilma Rousseff, president of Brazil
Dilma Rousseff reportedly dreamed of becoming a firefighter or trapeze artist when she was a kid. But serving as the first female president of one of the most populous countries in the world – and a burgeoning economic power – will likely inspire the dreams of young female Brazilians for years to come.
A career civil servant who never ran or held elected office prior to the presidency, Ms. Rousseff was inaugurated in January 2011. In her first year in office, Rousseff dismissed five cabinet members and dozens of officials charged with corruption. Known for supporting a prominent state role in the banking, oil, and energy sectors, Rousseff’s approval ratings rose to 72 percent in December 2011.
Brazil is one of South America’s most influential countries, one of the world’s largest democracies (with a population of nearly 200 million), and an economic powerhouse. The discovery of offshore oil could thrust the country into the top echelon of oil-exporting nations.