Monika Ndapandula Shifotoka has urged fellow young Namibians to keep reinventing themselves and find different ways of adapting and changing their current situations or circumstances, as there are plenty of opportunities that need to be explored.
The 31-year-old Shifotoka was recently appointed Young Professional (YP) under the information and external relations division by the World Trade Organisation (WTO) in Geneva, Switzerland, a role she has taken after being a civil servant for seven years as an information officer in ICT ministry.
Shifotoka holds a Master’s in Journalism and Communication, majoring in International Communication from the Communication University of China as well as an Honours Degree in Media Studies, majoring in Public Relations and Professional and Intercultural Communication from the University of Namibia (Unam).
Launched in 2017, the WTO Young Professional Programme (YPP) is a technical assistance programme, overseen by the Institute for Training and Technical Co-operation and funded by the Global Trust Fund (GTF).
She said: “As a young person, know that your goals are valid; hence, research, reach out and plan on how you will achieve those goals. Be willing to live uncomfortable while you work towards your plans – keep trying; keep reinventing yourselves and find different ways of adapting or changing your situations. There are opportunities out there – follow online platforms that can help in self and career development; continue working hard! You are born with a purpose, and I believe everyone can contribute towards making society better. One just needs to identify what they like and what their purpose is.”
Among others, her responsibility during the one-year contract is the daily compilation of trade news, assisting communication officers to prepare Geneva-based outreach seminars for journalists, monitor the coverage of WTO and trade-related issues by the media, assisting with setting up press briefings and assisting the social media team.
Shifotoka said being part of WTO is exciting, considering that many people at one point in her life told her not to study media.
“It is an honour to represent my beautiful country, as it is amongst the underrepresented at the WTO. I am also excited because most people discouraged me from pursuing a career in media and communication; hence, it is a continuous illustration that every career is important in every institution and organisation. I have also joined the organisation at a time of new leadership being led by the first black, African woman, which inspires me as a woman,” she told Youth Corner.
The institution, which recently roped in Nigerian-American economist Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala as its director general, is the world’s largest international economic organisation and an intergovernmental body that regulates and facilitates international trade between nations since 1995, with 164 member states representing over 96% of global trade and GDP.
“Young people can bring innovative ideas on how to better manage and tackle different issues in the organisation. Through information dissemination and awareness creation about WTO activities, young people can be informed about opportunities such as trade capacity-building that people can tap into,” said Shifotoka.
Manager of the YPP Samer Seif El Yazal said the programme aims to empower nationals from developing and least-developed members by building their technical knowledge and skills relating to the work of the WTO so that they can, in turn, contribute in a meaningful manner to the promotion of international trade.
“The WTO annually receives a large number of applicants who express an interest in the programme. For example, for the 2020 cohort of YPs, the WTO secretariat received close to 2 400 applications and retained 14 (six of which are African), including Monika Shifotoka from Namibia,” shared Seif El Yazal.