Most people have heard of a certain iconic woman who has made waves locally and internationally. She is instantly recognizable with her typical dressing of a matching Ankara head tie and blouse and eyeglasses. Almost every Nigerian was in an exhilarated mood when the good news was announced that a Nigerian woman had become the first African and the first woman to ever occupy the office of Director-General of the World Trade Organization in the history of the world, she assumed office in March 2021.
Her name is Ngozi Okonji-Iweala, as you must have already rightly guessed, and it’s very likely that you’ve heard a lot of good things about this strong and powerful woman. Let’s dive into some quick, interesting facts about this superwoman.
Ngozi Okoni-Iweala was born on 13th June 1954, meaning she is 67 years old at the moment. She is married to Ikemba Iweala who is a Physician that hails from Umuahia, Abia state. She has 4 children, Onyinye Iweala, Okechukwu Iweala, Uchechi IWeala, and the moderately popular author Uzodinma Iweala.
Ngozi Okoni-Iweala was born in Ogwashi-Ukwu, Delta state, Nigeria, and it might interest you to know that her father- Professor Chukwuka Okonnjo was the Obi of the Obahai royal Family of Ogwashi-Ukwu. Another fact that you may not have heard before is that Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala is actually a US citizen, at the same time it may not be so shocking since she has studied, worked, and lived there for decades, to the extent of receiving an international fellowship from the America Association of University Women (AAUW).
As expected, she is actually a well-educated woman and she has studied at several prestigious academic institutions like Harvard University and Massachusetts Institute of Technology where she got her Ph.D.
She started her early education in some standard schools like Queen’s School, Enugu, St. Anne’s School, Molete, Ibadan, and the International School Ibadan. Her education and life in Nigeria took a different turn when she travelled to the United States of America in 1973, she graduated 3 years later from Harvard University in flying colors.
In 1981, Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala went further to get her Ph.D. from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology where she studied Regional economics and development.
Career Track Record
Okonjo-Iweala has had a fulfilling career so far. It is no more news that at the moment, she is the current Director-General of the World Trade Organization (WTO). She currently sits on the boards of Twitter, Global alliance for vaccines and immunization, Standard Chartered Bank, and a few others.
She was the finance minister of Nigeria from 15th July 2003 to 21st June 2006 and from 17th August 2011 to 29th May 2015, under the leadership of President Olusegun Obasanjo and President Goodluck Jonathan respectively. She was also the Minister of foreign affairs from 21st June 2006 to 30th August 2006 under the leadership of President Olusegun Obasanjo.
She has also had a thriving career at the World Bank where she has served as a development economist. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala has shattered many glass ceilings. She was the first Nigerian woman to hold many public offices like the Minister of Finance and Director-General of the World Trade Organization as mentioned earlier.
She is actively involved in several nonprofit organizations like Bloomberg new Economy Forum, Women’s World Banking, The B team, Mandela Institute for Development Studies and so many others. She is also a member of the Boards of several establishments like Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank, African Development Bank and Joint World bank-INF Development, and GAVI where she is the Chair of the board.
Ngozi Oknojo-Iweala is a powerful woman that is an inspiration to Nigeria and the entire world. For her selfless, purposeful life, she has been given some very prestigious recognitions like being listed as one of the 50 greatest world leaders, top 100 most influential people, top 100 most powerful women, and top 3 most powerful women in Africa by Forbes in 2012.
She has been given awards like African of the year in 2020, the Madeleine K. Albright Global Development Award in 2017, finance minister of the year in 2004, and so many others. Even as she turned 67 on 13th June 2021, life continues to inspire millions of people across the globe.