Nigeria yet to produce a female governor – Okonjo-Iweala

"That needs to change, but no one is going to give it to the women. "Women must fight for it," said the WTO director general.

Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, the head of the World Trade Organization, has urged for greater inclusion and participation of women in leadership positions.

Okonjo-Iweala made the call while speaking to press after meeting the Duchess of Sussex Meghan and other women at the Nigerian Women in Leadership event in Abuja on Saturday.

She pointed out that women had continued to face many challenges while trying to become leaders.

The WTO chief added that during the deliberations, the women and the duchess exchanged their views on various issues and discussed how to ensure more women in leadership positions.

According to Ms Okonjo-Iweala, increasing the percentage of women in leadership positions in the states and at the federal government levels is imperative.

She added that the issues discussed during the conversation with the duchess bordered on the challenges women face in becoming leaders and how they could overcome them.

Ms Okonjo-Iweala further said they also discussed how women could support themselves and improve their position in the country.

“How do we improve the position of women in the country? We have a very low percentage of women in the National assembly. We have never had a woman governor, let alone something higher,” she said.

Though not elected, Virginia Etiaba became the governor of Anambra after the incumbent governor was removed. After three months in the saddle, she handed power back to the duly elected governor, Peter Obi, following a court order.

Ms Okonjo-Iweala added, “That has to change, but no one is going to hand it to the women. Women have to fight for it, but the men also have to support because you cannot have 50 per cent of your population not participating. So, these were some of the issues we discussed today, and we have to proffer solutions on how women could deal with the challenges of leadership.

“Most of the women in the room here are already leaders; they are not even struggling to get to the top as they are already there.”

Ms Okonjo-Iweala, however, said the event’s highlight was when the duchess shared her experiences.

Regarding Nigeria’s trade deficit, the WTO boss said the country must continue to diversify and add more value to the economy. She said the country must do more to attract domestic investment, not just from outside but also from the wealthy people in the country, and the government must also create the environment.

She added that this would persuade them to invest in certain productions and in different kinds of industries to attract people from outside.

Ms Okonjo-Iweala said, “If we are going to go into surplus, we also have to think of how to make use of the African continental free trade area because we have a large market here, but 1.4 billion is an even larger market. Those are the things we have to do.”


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