Okonjo-Iweala Became First Female WTO Director-General

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On February 15, 2021, Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, the daughter of a Nigerian royal and academic, became the first African and first woman to lead the universe’s flagship trade institution — the World Trade Organisation (WTO).

Okonjo-Iweala, who is used to shattering glass ceilings, becoming the first female finance minister in Nigeria, and the only human dead or alive to have held the position twice, outdid seven other contenders to emerge as the “Queen of Trade”.

Nicknamed Okonjo-Wahala, the trouble woman, for her tenacious execution of reforms in Nigeria, the development economist has gone on to clinch numerous international roles after her time in the country’s ministry of finance.

She has been appointed to the board of Twitter; saddled with the responsibility of leading the world’s leading vaccine organisation, Gavi; called to serve on the board of Standard Chartered Bank; and taken up numerous responsibilities at the AU, UN, IMF.

In 2012, she had put up a challenge to become the president of the World Bank, but lost the race to Jim Yong Kim who was backed by the US and South Korea. By 2020, her last contender for the WTO DG, Yoo Mhung-Hee, was also backed by the US and South Korea, but this time, she won.

The media has extensively reported her journey to become the first female DG of the WTO.


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