Nigerian economist Dr. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala is shattering global glass ceilings. Okonjo-Iweala has been named to head the World Trade Organization (WTO), making her the first woman and first African to lead the global organization. Okonjo-Iweala’s nomination had been blocked by former U.S. President Donald Trump whose administration focused on isolationism, protectionism and butt heads with the organization over their decision-making processes. The Trump administration threw its support behind Trade Minister Yoo Myung-hee of the Republic of Korea, who withdrew her candidacy early this month.
Okonjo-Iweala was appointed after newly elected U.S. President Joseph R. Biden’s administration endorsed Okonjo-Iweala’s candidacy.
While honored to be breaking barriers and leading the world’s leading organization focused on developing international trade rules, Okonjo-Iweala expressed the added “burden” of being the first African and woman to head the powerful organization.
The Associated Press reports:
“She said that as the first woman and first African to hold the post, ‘I absolutely do feel an additional burden, I can’t lie about that. Being the first woman and the first African means that one really has to perform.’
‘All credit to members for electing me and making that history, but the bottom line is that if I want to really make Africa and women proud I have to produce results, and that’s where my mind is at now.’”
Okonjo-Iweala also expressed concern over COVID-19 was her top priority.
In a statement about the appointment, Dr Okonjo-Iweala said a key priority for her would be to work with members to quickly address the economic and health consequences brought about by the COVID-19 pandemic.
“I am honoured to have been selected by WTO members as WTO Director-General,” said Dr. Okonjo-Iweala. “A strong WTO is vital if we are to recover fully and rapidly from the devastation wrought by the COVID-19 pandemic. I look forward to working with members to shape and implement the policy responses we need to get the global economy going again. Our organization faces a great many challenges but working together we can collectively make the WTO stronger, more agile and better adapted to the realities of today.”
Read Dr. Okonjo-Iweala’s Statement here.
Read more about the historic appointment at the Associated Press.
This post was written by Nsenga K. Burton, Ph.D., founder & editor-in-chief of The Burton Wire. Follow Nsenga on Twitter @Ntellectual.