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First Female Director General of the WTO, Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala Begins New Journey

Taking office on 1 March, Director-General Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala resumed her first day as WTO chief. She called on members to “do things differently” to achieve reforms necessary to keep the WTO relevant, starting with swift action to curb harmful fisheries subsidies, and to help scale up COVID-19 vaccine production and distribution. The new head of the WTO noted that high expectations for her tenure can only be met if members are willing to compromise and reach agreements.

Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, Director General, WTO (Photo: WTO)

The new leader then proceeded to welcome the chair of WTO fisheries subsidies Wills Santiago, discussing civil society's plea for a successful conclusion to negotiations to reach a deal to end harmful fisheries subsidies.

Commenting on her first day, Director General of the World Wildlife Fund, Marco Lambertini said "Remarkable commitment from WTO's DG on her 1st day in office concluding negotiations on harmful fisheries subsidies in line with SDG14".

Also speaking on her first day, Dr. Iweala said she is “coming into one of the most important institutions in the world and we have a lot of work to do. I feel ready to go.”

Dr. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, who was the former Nigerian Finance Minister stands as the first woman and African to be appointed as Director-General of the World Trade Organization. A glass ceiling shattering feat for many women of color around the world.


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