Helen Clark was Prime Minister of New Zealand for three successive terms from 1999-2008. She was the first woman to lead a party to electoral victory in New Zealand. Throughout her tenure as Prime Minister, and as a Member of Parliament for more than 27 years, Helen engaged widely in policy development and advocacy across the international, economic, social, environmental and cultural spheres. She advocated strongly for New Zealand's comprehensive programme on sustainability and for tackling the problems of climate change. She was an active leader of her country's foreign relations, involved in a broad range of international issues. In April 2009, Helen became Administrator of the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP). She was the first woman to lead the organisation and served two terms in the role. At the same time, she was Chair of the United Nations Development Group, a committee consisting of all UN funds, programmes, agencies and departments working on development issues. As Administrator, she led UNDP to be ranked the most transparent global development organisation. She completed her tenure in 2017. Helen continues to be a strong voice for sustainable development, climate action, gender equality and women's leadership, peace and justice, and for action on non-communicable diseases and HIV.
"If more issues of importance to women are to rise to the top of
political, legislative and budget priorities, more women must sit
at the top tables . . . Women must be drivers of development--not
just passive beneficiaries of plans designed by others." --Helen
"Helen Clark has reshaped our views on women and politics and the right of women to take up the mantle of political leadership." --Professor Jennifer Curtin, University of Auckland
"Helen Clark often said, and continues to say, that having women in leadership positions not only sends a powerful message to other women but also changes societies' perceptions of gender roles and encourages girls to believe that no door is closed to them." --Jacinda Ardern, Prime Minister of New Zealand