No mean feat. And, what makes this achievement all the more impressive, is while lifting this nation’s once dire economic outlook, Rousseff has maintained an unwavering commitment to social issues.
In its September 10 issue, Forbes ranks Rousseff, 64, third in its annual listings of the world’s most powerful women. (Behind German Chancellor Angela Merkel and US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, in first and second place respectively.)
Elected as Brazil’s first female president in October 2010, Rousseff – a former Marxist revolutionary held political prisoner for three years in the ’70s – has maintained a delicate balancing act between business-friendly policies and a program aimed at eradicating poverty. The results speak for themselves.
Under her leadership, not only does Brazil boast low unemployment (at 5.8 per cent) and a shrinking national debt, it’s fast becoming a nation of entrepreneurs – with one in four adults currently self-employed to some degree. More good news is that 42 per cent of these new business owners are women (the global average is 37 per cent).All this new-found wealth and independence – it’s estimated that half of Brazil’s population has now joined the ranks of the middle classes – has won Rousseff the support of her people. A June poll has her approval rating sitting at a healthy 77 per cent. In contrast, the approval rating for Australian Prime Minister Julia Gillard (who came in at 27th on the Forbes list), and Opposition Leader Tony Abbott, was hovering this week at 39 per cent each.