Okonjo-Iweala, also coordinating minister for the economy, was honoured for her capacity to deliver on the economy and lead in a very difficult environment.
(WATCH VIDEO: Growth of the Nigerian economy)
“The only other Nigerian who has previously received the award for her decades-long work of empowering women is Mrs. Bisi Fayemi,” noted a statement from Nigerian finance ministry.
Nigeria has been facing political crisis affecting economic activities especially in its northeastern region as a result of clandestine operations by an Islamist militant group, Boko Haram.
Okonjo-Iweala was honoured alongside Paul Polman, the chief executive officer of Unilever and Simao Jatene, governor of the state of Para, Brazil in New York.
The event organised as part of the Synergos Institute University for a Night, brings together leaders from business, government and civil society to discuss innovative ways of addressing global problems.
The organisation supports initiatives in more than 30 countries and regions.
It has staff and representatives in Africa, Europe, Middle East and Latin America.
Synergos is a group of leading philanthropists that look at issues such as unleashing the leadership capacity of young people; changing the lives of women and girls; women’s health and social justice; improving governance to meet human needs; overcoming violence and sustaining peace.
Okonjo-Iweala joins a list of eminent persons who have been honoured in the past such as Nelson Mandela, Kofi Anan, Bill Clinton, Sir Richard Branson, Her Majesty Queen Rania Al Abdullah of Jordan, Bill Gates and president of Liberia Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf.
Okonjo-Iweala is esteemed for her work at the World Bank as one of managing directors and for her two successful terms as Nigeria’s finance minister.
A graduate from United States’ Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Okonjo-Iweala is a respected economist.
BY TRUST MATSILELE