Okonjo-Iweala sets record with two females among WTO deputy heads

Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala

Director-general of the World Trade Organisation Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala on Tuesday named two women to the WTO’s four deputy directors-general jobs, making history in the process.

Mrs Okonjo-Iweala herself is the first woman and the first African to lead the WTO. She assumed the role on March 1.

She appointed Angela Ellard of the United States, Anabel González of Costa Rica, Ambassador Jean-Marie Paugam of France and Ambassador Xiangchen Zhang of China.

This is “the first time in the history of our organisation that half of the DDGs are women,” said Okonjo-Iweala.

“This underscores my commitment to strengthening our organisation with talented leaders whilst at the same time achieving gender balance in senior positions,” she added. “I look forward to welcoming them to the WTO.”

In making the appointments, Okonjo-Iweala maintained the previous balance of one deputy from China, one from the United States, one from the European Union and one from a developing country.

The new DDGs replace Yonov Frederick Agah of Nigeria, Karl Brauner of Germany, Alan Wolff of the United States and Yi Xiaozhun of China.

The deputies each take charge of four or five fields at the Geneva-based global trade body, such as legal affairs, market access, development, agriculture and commodities, and intellectual property.

The organisation will on Wednesday and Thursday convene a general council. The council is the WTO’s highest-level decision-making body in Geneva, featuring representatives from all 164 member states.