Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, an economist, global finance expert, and former finance minister of Nigeria, is all set to become the next director-general of the World Trade Organization (WTO), making her the first woman and the first African to hold the post.
Her path to lead the WTO became clear after South Korea’s trade minister Yoo Myung-hee withdrew her nomination from the post.
The 66-year-old Okonjo-Iweala, who is a Harvard graduate, has tremendous experience in working for financial institutions and in the sector of finance: apart from serving as the finance minster of Nigeria twice, she has spent more than two decades as a development economist at the World Bank, rising to the position of the Managing Director. In her stint with the World Bank, she is widely credited with heading several developmental initiatives for the poor nations. She is currently serving as the chairwoman of the Center for Global Development. She also sits on the boards of Twitter, Standard Chartered Bank, and the Global Alliance for Vaccines and Immunization (GAVI), which has immunized 680 million children globally and saved ten million lives since its inception in 2000.
“Dr. Okonjo-Iweala is eager to focus on the many needed reforms at the W.T.O.,” Molly Toomey, a spokeswoman for Dr. Okonjo-Iweala said. “She is humbled by the support she has received from W.T.O. members and of champions in Nigeria and other parts of the world.”
The World Trade Organization, headquartered in Geneval, was established in 1995 to regulate international trade between nations and promote free trade. It has been without a permanent director-general since Roberto Azevêdo of Brazil resigned in August last year without a permanent successor.
It is women like Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala who shatter the glass ceiling and inspire other women to follow suit. Isn’t it?