Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala Emerges as First Woman and African To Lead the World Trade Organisation


Former Minister of Finance and Development Economist, Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala has emerged as the first woman and African to be appointed Director General of the World Trade Organisation.

According to reports from key officials at Geneva, Switzerland, the headquarters of WTO on Wednesday, the former Minister of Finance, garnered more support to overtake her rival, South Korea’s Ms Yoo Myung-hee.

About 106 countries including France, Germany, and other top European countries have thrown their weights behind her appointment.

Her appointment comes at a time when WTO is marking its 25th anniversary. According to a Tweet from WTO, it said “as the WTO is on the verge of getting its first female Director-General, we celebrate the Women Pioneers of the Organization.

These women have made significant contributions to the WTO and have shaped international trade as we know it.”

WTO said in 2005, Arancha González became the first woman to serve as a Chief of Staff to a WTO Director-General, working in the cabinet of Pascal Lamy.

Eight years later in 2013, Arancha was appointed as the Executive Director of the International Trade Centre.

Sunanta Kangvalkulkij is the first Asian woman to serve as the Chair of the WTO General Council in 2019, the Organization’s highest-level decision-making body in Geneva, after a year of chairing the WTO’s
Commenting on her appointment process, Okonjo-Iweala in a recent tweet, lauded her scores of supports.

“Grateful for the endorsement of my as WTO DG bid by such internationally renowned and respected leaders as Mary Robinson, Mo Ibrahim, Aliko Dangote, Strive Masiyiwa, (among others).”

She also assured that the benefits of WTO and of trade must be brought home and made real to the ordinary woman and man on the street. “Grateful for your endorsement as WTO DG,” she added.

Many Nigerians and world leaders have congratulated Iweala for the achievement.