Okonjo-Iweala accepts apology from Swiss newspaper over ‘grandmother’ remarks
The first woman and first African to lead the World Trade Organization on Monday welcomed an apology from a Swiss newspaper that had dismissed the seasoned international professional as a grandmother.
“It is important & timely that they’ve apologised,” Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala said in a tweet.
The development economist took over as the new WTO chief on Monday after a long, high-powered career serving as minister of finance and foreign affairs in her native Nigeria and 25 years at the World Bank.
But when several Swiss newspapers announced her appointment last month, they decided the most noteworthy thing to mention about the new WTO chief was as a matriarch.
“This grandmother will become the boss of the WTO,” read the headline of the article published by the Aargauer Zeitung and several other papers on February 9.
After a number of women heads of UN agencies and more than 120 ambassadors in Geneva last week signed a petition calling out the headline as racist and sexist, the paper apologised.
“This headline was inappropriate and unsuitable… We apologise for this editorial mistake,” the paper’s foreign editor-in-chief Samuel Schumacher said in a statement.