The director-general of the World Trade Organisation (WTO), Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, has been listed in Time Magazine’s 100 Most Influential People for 2021. Others listed include Naomi Osaka, Britney Spears, Angelique Kidjo, Joe Biden, Donald Trump, Elon Musk, Kamala Harris among others. Time Magazine’s annual list of 100 most influential people in the world accords recognition to “people whose ideas, example, talent, or discoveries transform the world we live in”. The list places individuals in five categories: titans, pioneers, artists, leaders and icons.
Okonjo-Iweala, who became the first woman and first African to lead the WTO in March, was included in the “leaders” category, alongside Joe Biden, President of the United States of America; Kamala Harris, US Vice President; Xi Jinping, President of China, and Narendra Modi, Prime Minister of India.
Prince Harry and Meghan were full of praise for Okonjo-Iweala, who emerged as the first woman and African to lead the WTO; first Nigerian woman to serve two terms as finance minister, first under President Olusegun Obasanjo from 2003 to 2006 and secondly, under President Goodluck Jonathan from 2011 to 2015. Subsequently, from June to August 2006, she served as Minister for Foreign Affairs of Nigeria.
The couple stated in the magazine, “What will it take to vaccinate the world? Unity, cooperation and leaders like Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala.
“As the first African and first woman to lead the World Trade Organization, a 164-member group of nations that oversees trade across the world, Okonjo-Iweala took on the role of director-general this March at a watershed moment for our global health and well-being. Make no mistake; her job affects every person, family and community.
“As we face a constant barrage of vaccine misinformation, bureaucratic slowdowns across both government and industry, and the rise of variants that underscore the urgency of the situation, Okonjo-Iweala has shown us that to end the pandemic; we must work together to equip every nation with equitable vaccine access.
“Our conversations with her have been as informative as they are energizing. This is partly because, despite the challenges, she knows how to get things done—even between those who don’t always agree—and does so with grace and a smile that warms the coldest of rooms.
“The fragility of our world right now cannot be overstated. Just over a quarter of the nearly 8 billion global population is fully vaccinated. Achieving vaccine equity is a global duty of compassion for one another. Our hope is that guided by strong leaders like Ngozi, and we can get there soon.”