GENEVA: The first woman and the first African to lead the World Trade Organization on Monday welcomed an apology from a Swiss newspaper that called the veteran international professional a grandmother.
“It is important and at the right time that they apologize,” Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala said in a tweet.
The development economist took over the new chair of the World Trade Organization on Monday after having worked a brilliant long time as finance and foreign affairs minister in her native Nigeria and 25 years at the World Bank.
But when several Swiss newspapers announced her appointment last month, they decided that the most important thing to mention about the new head of the World Trade Organization was that she was the mother.
“This grandmother will become the president of the World Trade Organization,” said the headline of the article that was published by Argauer Zeitung and several other newspapers on February 9th.
After several heads of UN agencies and more than 120 ambassadors signed in Geneva last week a petition describing the headline as racist and sexist, the newspaper apologized.
“This headline was inappropriate and inappropriate … We apologize for this editorial mistake,” the foreign newspaper’s editor-in-chief, Samuel Schumacher, said in a statement on Friday.
In a tweet, Ngozi welcomed the apology and said that she is “grateful to all my sisters, the leaders of UN Women and the 124 ambassadors in Geneva who signed the petition regarding the summons of racist and sexual remarks in this newspaper.”
She stressed that “we need to summon this behavior when it occurs,” denouncing the stereotypes that women face when they assume leadership positions.
She said the main disaster reflected the problems raised in a book she co-authored with former Australian Prime Minister Julie Gillard, entitled Women and Leadership.