The African Women Leaders Network has declared its unwavering support for Dr Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala in her quest to become Director-General of the World Trade Organisation.
The AWNL stressed that the WTO is one of the few international organizations that has never been led by a woman, and emphasised Okonjo-Iweala’s experience and suitability for the job.
“Her candidacy must be considered for her unquestionable knowledge, integrity, broad and relevant domain expertise, commitment to excellence and leadership track record in institutional reform and performance,” a statement issued by the women’s group said.
The group recognised the former World Bank managing director’s continental and global accomplishments, stating that the “highly accomplished African woman” should be elected to head the WTO at a time the world needs a global rules-based order.
According to the women network, apart from Okonjo-Iweala’s proud African roots, she is also a committed global citizen.
“Dr. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala is an internationally renowned economist and international development expert, with experience in trade policy reform in her home country, as well as at the World Bank,” the statement continued.
The AWNL stressed that Okonjo-Iweala’s candidacy is based on a stellar track record from steering the complex financial reform in Nigeria, as well as her demonstrated brokering, negotiation, technical and leadership competencies in private sector and development finance institutions and other processes.
“Her work on gender budgeting as Nigeria’s finance minister provided additional funding to women farmers and for women’s health issues,” it affirmed, while also stating her support of job creation for youth, with a special focus on young women entrepreneurs.
The group also highlighted Okonjo-Iweala’s sterling work as chair of the Global Vaccine Alliance, “…where she shepherded an unprecedentedly high recent replenishment – helping to ensure a greater reach of vaccines to the poor.
“This role and her AU Special Envoy role, to mobilize international economic support for the continental fight against Covid-19, are also clear testimony of the high regard in which she is held,” the AWNL stated.
The women network said further that the WTO is sometimes viewed as “a complex and inaccessible institution with rigid and in some instances, outdated processes” which belies the potentially beneficial impact it can have for women informal traders, far away from its corridors in Geneva.
However, it believes that with Okonjo-Iweala at the helm, the WTO can support African women traders – a backbone of Africa’s economy – who still face a number of hurdles.
The AWLN, is a mobilizing movement of African women and their supporters, which provides a convening platform for thought leadership and action and seeks to amplify the voice, agency and participation of women at all levels of decision making, particularly the top leadership on the continent and elsewhere.