Finance Guru Dr. Okonjo-Iweala has rewritten history as the first woman and the first African to lead the WTO. She is the first woman and first African to win the director general post of the of the 164-member World Trade Organisation (WTO).
The two time former Nigerian minister’s term starts on the 1st of March 2021.
“It is done! Thank you @WTO members for finalizing my election today and making history. In the 73 years of GATT and WTO, honored to be First Woman and First African to lead. But now the real work begins. Ready to tackle the challenges of WTO. Forget Business as usual! ” Ngozi Okonjo Iweala wrote, celebrating the victory on Twitter.
Speaking on what’s next, the inspiring Iweala says she is focused on delivering results: ‘I want to make sure that people remember my continent producing the first leader of the WTO that made a difference,’ Okonjo-Iweala said.
Recall November last year, then US president Donald Trump had ordered his trade envoy Robert Lighthizer to block Iweala’s appointment – despite her winning support from majority – more than 70% of the WTO members.
With Joe Biden’s victory over Trump in the US elections, the 66 year old former finance minister recieved major boost from the newly elected government, hence she secured the top spot.
On 15 February, the WTO held its general council online to confirm the new director general.
Boasting of stellar achievements,
economist and international development expert Ngozi Okonjo Iweala with over 30 years experience has in no small measure distinguished herself beyond the African continent.
Dr Okonjo-Iweala was named Forbes African of the Year (2020), Minister of the Decade, People’s Choice Award (2020) by Nigeria’s This Day newspaper. She also received the International Service Award of the World Affairs Councils of America (2020) as well as the Aminu Kano Award for Leadership (2020). In 2019, she was named one of Transparency International’s 8 Female Anti-Corruption Fighters Who Inspire. She has been ranked by Fortune as one of the 50 Greatest World Leaders in 2015, by Forbes as one of the Top 100 Most Powerful Women in the World consecutively for four years, by Time as one of the Top 100 Most Influential People in the World in 2014, and by the UK Guardian as one of the Top 100 Women in the World in 2011, among other accolades and honours.
Dr. Iweala who holds a Bachelor’s in Economics from Harvard University and a PhD in Regional Economics and Development from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology has received sixteen honorary degrees, including from Yale University, the University of Pennsylvania, Brown University, Tel Aviv University and Trinity College, Dublin.
She is Chair of the Board of Gavi, the Global Alliance for Vaccines and Immunisation and sits on the boards of Standard Chartered Bank, Twitter, Global Alliance for Vaccines and Immunization, and the African Risk Capacity.