Okonjo-Iweala Reacts as Swiss Council Says Calling Her ‘Grandmother’ Was Sexist

Nigeria’s former finance minister, Dr Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala on Thursday welcomed the ruling of the Swiss Press Council after the Council ruled that a headline which described the Nigerian as a ‘grandmother’ when she won the role of Director General at the World Trade Organsiation was sexist.

When the Aargauer Zeitung daily announced Okonjo-Iweala’s appointment in February, the paper was silent on her roles as finance minister, foreign affairs minister, her 25 years at the World Bank and her role on the board of Gavvi, but chose to focus the headline as a ‘grandmother.’

“This grandmother will become the boss of the WTO,” the headline of February 9, 2021 read.

The headline was highly criticised across the globe.

Swiss Press Council scrutinized the charges that the paper’s choice of headline had been inspired by gender discrimination and/or racial discrimination, according to AFP.

In its ruling, the Council said, “It is obvious that if this had been about a male former finance and foreign minister in a country of 200 million people, the headline ‘a grandfather becomes the WTO director-general’ would be inconceivable.

“Therefore, the council deems the headline discriminatory on the basis of gender.”

The 67-year-old  Harvard development economist in response to the ruling  said people should not condone sexism or racism.

Okonjo-Iweala said in a monitored Tweet, “I welcome the ruling of the Swiss Press Council calling out the gender bias & sexism of Swiss newspaper Aargauer Zeitung for its headline ‘Grandmother becomes boss of WTO’ upon my appointment. It is right to call out sexism, racism or both when you see it!”

The paper had  earlier apologised amid criticism that the headline had been “inappropriate and unsuitable.”


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