Leadership

Movers and shakers: Some of the women you should keep an eye out for in 2017

People gather to form a woman symbol to celebrate International Women's Day at Manila's Rizal Park on March 8, 2014.
Jay DIRECTO | AFP | Getty Images

If you don't already know, March 8 is International Women's Day (IWD), an opportunity to celebrate the achievements women have made socially, economically, politically and culturally around the world.

Whether it was political developments or citizens standing up for equal rights, the topic of women's role in society has been of global importance in the past year, and will continue to be going forward.

Consequently, the organizers behind IWD want people to "#BeBoldForChange" in 2017 — calling for a more gender-inclusive and equal world.

CNBC takes a look at some of the leading women set to make headlines during 2017.


Theresa May and the UK’s future after Brexit

Kirsty Wigglesworth | WPA Pool | Getty Images

Following the U.K.'s decision to leave the European Union in June 2016, all eyes will be on Prime Minister Theresa May this year as European leaders await the triggering of Article 50, which formally starts the two-year negotiations on the terms of Britain's exit.

How May and the U.K. negotiates its relationship with key EU members and countries around the world will be key in 2017, especially when it comes to immigration, trade and investment.


Marching for women’s rights

Protesters walk during the WomenÕs March on Washington, with the U.S. Capitol in the background, on January 21, 2017 in Washington, DC.
Mario Tama | Getty Images News | Getty Images

A raft of demonstrations against the current U.S. administration have taken place since Donald Trump took office, with one of — if not the biggest — being organized by those behind the Women's March.

After millions participated in January's global march, the Women's March on Washington has launched a campaign called "10 Actions / 100 days" whereby the group encourages individuals to take action on a major issue every 10 days.

In addition, the group has organized a general strike on March 8, called A Day Without A Woman, which expects to see women take the day off from work, avoid shopping and/or wear red, to highlight women's importance in work, society and the home.


The rise of the National Front and Marine Le Pen

President of French far-right Front National (FN) party Marine Le Pen delivers a speech during a political rally on September 3, 2016 in Brachay, France.
Chesnot | Getty Images

Following the rise of populist sentiment around the world in the past year, France's election this spring is expected to cause a stir, especially with the growing support of far-right candidate Marine Le Pen from the National Front, a party seen as both anti-EU and anti-immigration.

Recent polls have shown that Le Pen is a strong contender for the first round of the elections, due in April, but she would face tough competition in the second round in May, competing against the likes of centrist Emmanuel Macron. While many analysts don't expect Le Pen to win, the fact that she's been gaining ground has put markets on edge.


Business under Trump: GM, Planned Parenthood and more

President Donald Trump greets CEO of General Motors Mary Barra (L) prior to a meeting with auto industry leaders in the Roosevelt Room of the White House on January 24, 2017 in Washington, DC.
Shawn Thew-Pool | Getty Images News | Getty Images

The future of trade, production and manufacturing processes are extremely important for the U.S. economy, with a large number of companies being closely watched to see how they'll operate under President Donald Trump.

Leading U.S. female chief executives who will have to work with the new administration include General Motors' Mary Barra, PepsiCo's Indra Nooyi and Mondelēz International's Irene Rosenfeld.

Uncertainty also lingers around some organizations' futures, including Planned Parenthood, who is facing challenges of being defunded, and also suffered a blow after Trump signed an executive order to ban U.S. funding to international groups that perform abortions.

  • Other leaders to watch: Leading tech figures including Hewlett Packard Enterprise's Meg Whitman and Facebook's Sheryl Sandberg — and how they deal with Trump's policy on immigration.

A call for diversity in the movies

Cheryl Boone Isaacs attends the 89th Annual Academy Awards Oscar Foreign Language Film Award Directors reception in Beverly Hills, California.
CHRIS DELMAS | AFP | Getty Images

This year's Academy Awards marked a big win for diversity, from "Moonlight" winning Best Picture, to Viola Davis becoming the first black actress to win the "triple crown of acting" which includes an Academy Award, a Tony and an Emmy. Meanwhile, Mahershala Ali also became the first Muslim actor to win an Oscar.

But the industry recognizes there is still work to be done. After receiving backlash for announcing an all-white Oscar nominee line-up for the second year in a row in 2016, the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences has worked hard to improve its level of diversity, with it announcing in 2016 a goal to double the number of minority and female members in the Academy by 2020.

Academy President Cheryl Boone Isaacs has been at the front of this diversity push and while this year's Oscars was a major step forward, it's expected that Isaacs and the Academy will continue this diversity drive further in 2017.

  • Other groups to watch: BAFTA and The Recording Academy, leading organizations that manage entertainment awards, who've respectively spoken up about diversity in film and music.

Janet Yellen and the Fed’s rate strategy

Federal Reserve Chair Janet Yellen prepares to speak before a Senate Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs Committee hearing on the “Semiannual Monetary Policy Report to the Congress” on Capitol Hill in Washington, U.S., February 14, 2017.
Joshua Roberts | Reuters

Having raised interest rates once in 2015 and 2016 respectively, all eyes will be on the Federal Reserve in 2017 to see if it follows through with its three hikes forecast.

Investors will also be on the lookout for how the central bank operates under the new U.S. administration. While Trump has been critical of Fed Chair Janet Yellen in the past, in November Yellen told Congress that she did not intend to step down before her term was completed, due early 2018.

If Yellen's term of office is not renewed, 2017 will mark the last full year for her as chair, however she will remain a member of the board until 2024.

  • Women to watch: Bank of Russia Governor Elvira Nabiullina as the country deals with oil price volatility. International Monetary Fund Managing Director Christine Lagarde and World Bank CEO Kristalina Georgieva on how each group will respond to economic issues.

Making the world a greener place

Executive Secretary of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, Patricia Espinosa (L) and former Executive Secretary, Christiana Figueres, walk on the stage.
ANDER GILLENEA | AFP | Getty Images

Following the success of the United Nations' COP21 environmental summit, countries and businesses are working hard to cut their greenhouse gas emissions and incorporate more eco-friendly processes.

One such movement is the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), a key driver behind the Paris Agreement in December 2015. The international treaty — which has Executive Secretary Patricia Espinosa at the forefront of it — is expected to continue this drive towards a more sustainable, greener environment in 2017, by making sure countries do their bit as part of the Paris agreement.

  • Women to watch: Another two groups expected to help promote this sustainable energy push is that of Sustainable Energy for All with its CEO Rachel Kyte, and Mission 2020, led by Christiana Figueres, a former UNFCCC executive secretary.

German politics: Merkel vs. Petry

Frauke Petry, head of the AfD (Alternative fuer Deutschland, or Alternative for Germany) political party | German Chancellor Angela Merkel
Getty Images: Sean Gallup/Getty Images News | Adam Berry/Getty Images News

Germany could see Angela Merkel secure her fourth term as chancellor in 2017 if the Christian Democratic Union (CDU) party succeeds in September's election.

One party putting the CDU on edge however is the Alternative for Germany party (AfD), a right-wing party headed up by Frauke Petry. The AfD has garnered support over the past year for its anti-immigration stance, following the backlash seen against Merkel's open-door refugee policy.

Recent polls suggest however that the Social Democrats will be the party to watch, following the rise in popularity of candidate Martin Schulz. Even if AfD doesn't form a coalition or win, if popularity rises, the party may have a solid chance of entering parliament and having an impact on legislative procedures.


The media, Trump and Kellyanne Conway

Kellyanne Conway, campaign manager for 2016 Republican Presidential Nominee Donald Trump.
Andrew Harrer | Bloomberg | Getty Images

One woman from the new White House administration that continues to take the media by storm is that of Presidential Counselor Kellyanne Conway. Conway first entered the scene, when she joined Trump's campaign team in July 2016 as a senior advisor, however by August, Conway was promoted to campaign manager after Trump made alterations to his campaign leadership team.

In 2017, Conway has already made the headlines, sparking ethics concerns by encouraging people to "go buy" Ivanka Trump's products — an issue the White House has concluded as acting "inadvertently" and without bad intentions — and spoken out about "Bowling Green massacre" - an attack that never actually happened.

With the media's relationship to the U.S. administration having already gotten off to a rocky start, the world will be keeping an eye on what Conway — and Trump's administration — says and does over the course of 2017.

  • Other women to watch: Businesswoman Ivanka Trump when it comes to her relationship with her father, and Hillary Clinton, for what she does next, after running in the 2016 U.S. election.