The World Trade Organization’s (WTO) first female and first African director-general Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala started work on Monday, March 1st after her official appointment on February 15, 2021.
Her campaign was derailed by a veto from the former US Trump administration. However, the arrival of Joe Biden made her appointment possible.
“I am coming into one of the most important institutions in the world and we have a lot of work to do,” Ngozi said as she arrived for her first day on the job in Geneva. “I feel ready to go.”
Her first day coincided with the annual meeting of the WTO’s General Council, and she told journalists, “I am hoping to be able to listen in and see what delegations have to say, what ambassadors have to say, about the key issues.”
Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala was born 1954 in Nigeria. She studied at Harvard 1973-76 and earned a PhD at Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) in 1981.
She also spent 25 years at the World Bank, rising to the No.2 position as managing director (2007-11). She has served twice as Nigerian finance minister (2003-2006 and 2011-2015) and is the first woman to hold the post. She served briefly as foreign minister in 2006- the first woman to do so.
She has made history again as she becomes director-general of the WTO in March 2021.