Three African women leading international organisations.

Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala: Director-General of the World Trade Organisation (WTO)

This prominent Nigerian national made headlines in March 2021 when she emerged as the first woman and the first African to lead the World Trade Organisation.

Dr Iweala was born in Delta State Nigeria and studied at various secondary schools across Nigeria before finishing up at the International School Ibadan. Afterwards, she proceeded to the United States of America where he studied Economics at Harvard and graduated with flying colours. She later earned a Ph.D. in Economics & Development from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

She worked at the World Bank for over 20 years and rose to the position of Managing Director. She also worked in public service back in her home country Nigeria, serving first as Finance Minister and later as Minister of Foreign Affairs.

Besides her current position as the Director-General of the WTO, Dr Iweala also sits on the boards of Standard Chartered Bank, Danone, Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, Twitter, etc.

Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala

Winnie Byanyima: UNAIDS Executive Director

Mrs Byanyima is a Ugandan aeronautical engineer and the current Executive Director of the Joint United Nations Programme on HIV and AIDS (UNAIDS). She assumed the position in November 2019. And prior to that, she served as the Executive Director of Oxfam International between 2013 and 2019.

She was born in Western Uganda and went to secondary school there before proceeding to the University of Manchester where she became the first woman from Uganda to study aeronautical engineering. She later obtained a master’s degree in mechanical engineering from Cranefield University.

Upon return to Uganda after her studies, she worked in Uganda Airlines and later flew combatant planes for the National Resistance Army.

Winnie Byanyima

Antoinette Sayeh: Deputy Managing Director of the International Monetary Fund (IMF)

Dr Sayeh is a Liberian economist and the current Deputy Managing Director of the IMF. Publicly available records show that she has been working with the IMF since 2006 and had previously served as the Director of the IMF’s African Department. She earlier served as Liberia’s Finance Minister under President Ellen Sirleaf.

Antoinette Sayeh holds a Ph.D. in International Economic Relations from the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy.

Antoinette Sayeh


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