This is a BIG moment for African women.
Okonjo-Iweala is the first woman and first African to take on the role of President of the World Trade Organization, an organization that regulates and facilitates international trade between nations. She is known for her narrative on raising the African economy through innovation, technology, and trade.
Why is her appointment so important to us?
Okonjo-Iweala’s appointment as President of the World Trade Organization gives African women hope. Not only was she Nigeria’s finance minister and, for a short time, its foreign minister, but she had a 25-year career at the World Bank, focusing on economic growth and development in poorer countries. She managed $81 billion in development financing in Africa, South Asia, Europe, and Central Asia.
It has not been easy. In 2012, she went for the top job at the World Bank, typically headed by an American, and lost. Okonjo-Iweala’s Full Bio
Her appointment is critical to African women because she has lived their experience. Okonjo-Iweala knows that before the pandemic, women relied on starting businesses out of necessity, not necessarily because they saw it as an opportunity for economic empowerment. They faced challenges at each step of the business ladder, from getting access to basic finance and the internet, to being promoted to middle management or scoring venture capital funding.
The Covid-19 crisis has disrupted women’s lives in significant ways. In Uganda and around the world women—especially mothers, entrepreneurs, and the ultra-poor—are facing distinct challenges. With schools closed, family demands are front and center. They also have the additional stress that they must keep their businesses afloat so they can feed their families.
Let’s join with other women across the world in congratulating Okonjo-Iweala and wishing her great success in her new role starting March 1, 2021.