“This grandmother will become the new boss of WTO,” apparently screamed a headline in a Swiss newspaper. And when, apparently, the headline received backlash the Swiss newspaper changed it on its online version to: “This 66 year old Nigerian will head WTO.”
It would be interesting to read what the same Swiss newspaper wrote when, for example, Christine Lagrde was appointed the President of the European Central Bank. Did it headlined her age seniority or it appropriately headlined her specific academic and work experience that qualified her for the job? As, in fact Lagarde does for Dr. Ngozi Okonjo-lwela
And yes, what if it was a black man, what would the headline in the Swiss newspaper have been? Perhaps, a black man would have received a more befitting headline that perhaps reflects his competence for the job. Certainly though, if Dr. Ngozi Okonjo was a white man, the headline in the Swiss newspaper would have exalted his expertise for the job.
Well, according to her profile on Wikipedia, Dr. Ngozi is a Nigerian-American, an economist and an international development expert, whose career includes working with the World Bank for 25 years as a development economist, holding high level positions, such as being the bank’s Managing Director, Operations for four years.
Previously, also, Dr. Ngozi served as Finance Minister of Nigeria for eight years, during which time, in 2005, Euromoney named her global finance minister of the year. She is on the boards of Standard Chartered Bank, Twitter, Global Alliance for Vaccines and Immunization, and the African Risk Capacity.
That the Swiss newspaper instead chose to highlight her being a grandmother or her young age of 66, speaks volumes. On the world stage, it would indeed appear that the battle for black African women to be duly recognised and duly credited is still has a long way to go in the right direction. A lot more needs to be done.
On ‘the world’ stage, clearly, perceptions of us, Black African Women, seem stuck in eighteenth century racism and stereotypes. A status quo that provides us all with food for thought as the commemoration of International Women’s Day 2021 is only but a couple of weeks away.