February 17, 2021

Washington DC –  The General Council of the World Trade Organization (WTO) voted to appoint Dr. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, from Nigeria, as Director-General beginning March 1, 2021.  Dr. Okonjo-Iweala is both the first African and the first female appointed to this position.  The appointment comes after a long selection process ending with two female finalists: Dr. Okonjo-Iweala and Yoo Myung-hee, J.D. The election of an African female to this coveted role on the global stage provides a strong sense of African hope which is essential in this time of global pandemic.

Rev. Nelson Adjei-Bediako, SMA, Executive Director of the Africa Faith and Justice Network (AFJN) who has years of experience working in Africa made the following comments: 

  • “Africans around the world will be watching to see how Dr. Okonjo-Iweala, the first African female, will lead the WTO and the innovative solutions she will bring to the table.
  • “This choice comes at this incredibly significant moment when the WTO must address the global economic recovery and health challenges brought about by the COVID-19 Pandemic.
  • “The Africa Faith and Justice Network is hopeful that Dr. Okonjo-Iweala will work to build trust among members and eliminate unfair trade practices that negatively impact poor countries, particularly those in Africa.”

Sr. Eucharia Madueke, SNDeN, PhD, Women’s Empowerment Coordinator of AFJN who has been working with women religious and youth on the African continent states that:

  • “The appointment of Dr. Okonjo-Iweala as Director-General of the WTO is not only a triumph for Africa, it is also a shining example of how far women have come on the world stage.
  • “Africa has been leading the charge of electing women to leadership positions, with several African countries having women as their Heads of State.  It is about time the global bodies started following our lead by appointing an African woman. 
  • “The Africa youth are so excited to see someone who looks like them appointed to such a high position.” 

Read AFJN’s 2019 List of Female African Presidents and learn how women are transforming Africa by holding leadership roles.


The Africa Faith & Justice Network is a faith-based, non-partisan coalition of 29 US-based religious communities of men and women. Inspired by the Gospel and informed by Catholic Social Teaching, AFJN seeks to educate and advocate for just relations with Africa and to work in partnership with African peoples as they engage in the struggle for justice, peace, and the integrity of creation.


Available for Interview:Rev. Nelson Adjei-Bediako, SMA
Sr. Eucharia Madueke, SNDeN
Contact: Lydia Andrews, Communications Manager | (m) 847-772-2305 | (o) 202-817-3670