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Helen Clark
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Helen Clark became the Administrator of the United Nations Development Programme on 17 April 2009, and is the first woman to lead the organization. She is also the Chair of the United Nations Development Group, a committee consisting of the heads of all UN funds, programmes and departments working on development issues.

Prior to her appointment with UNDP, Helen Clark served for nine years as Prime Minister of New Zealand, serving three successive terms from 1999 - 2008. Throughout her tenure as Prime Minister, Helen Clark engaged widely in policy development and advocacy across the international, economic, social and cultural spheres. Under her leadership, New Zealand achieved significant economic growth, low levels of unemployment, and high levels of investment in education and health, and in the well-being of families and older citizens. She and her government prioritized reconciliation and the settlement of historical grievances with New Zealand’s indigenous people and the development of an inclusive multicultural and multi-faith society.

Helen Clark advocated strongly for New Zealand’s comprehensive programme on sustainability and for tackling the problems of climate change. Her objectives have been to establish New Zealand as being among the world’s leading nations in dealing with these challenges. Helen Clark was also an active leader of her country’s foreign relations and policies, engaging in a wide range of international issues. As Prime Minister, Helen Clark was a member of the Council of Women World Leaders, an international network of current and former women presidents and prime ministers whose mission is to mobilize the highest-level women leaders globally for collective action on issues of critical importance to women and equitable development.

Helen Clark held ministerial responsibility during her nine years as Prime Minister for New Zealand’s intelligence agencies and for the portfolio of arts, culture and heritage. She has seen the promotion of this latter portfolio as important in expressing the unique identity of her nation in a positive way.

Helen Clark came to the role of Prime Minister after an extensive parliamentary and ministerial career. First elected to Parliament in 1981, Helen Clark was re-elected to her multicultural Auckland constituency for the tenth time in November 2008. Earlier in her career, she chaired Parliament’s Foreign Affairs Committee.

Between 1987 and 1990, she was a Minister responsible for first, the portfolios of Conservation and Housing, and then Health and Labour. She was Deputy Prime Minister between August 1989 and November 1990. From that date until December 1993 she served as Deputy Leader of the Opposition, and then as Leader of the Opposition until winning the election in November 1999.

Prior to entering the New Zealand Parliament, Helen Clark taught in the Political Studies Department of the University of Auckland. She graduated with a BA in 1971 and an MA with First Class Honours in 1974. She is married to Peter Davis, a Professor at Auckland University.

Entries by Helen Clark

Tackling Violence Against Women and Girls: An Urgent Priority

(25) Comments | Posted November 25, 2013 | 11:37 AM

Today is the International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women -- a day which reminds us that violence against women continues to be destructive and pervasive. Ranging from domestic violence and child marriages to the use of rape as a tactic of war, violence against women kills as...

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Haiti - Building Resilience

(6) Comments | Posted April 19, 2013 | 8:00 PM

When the devastating earthquake of 2010 struck Haiti, 24-hour rolling news carried heartbreaking stories of destroyed lives and livelihoods. Images of rubble and destruction shocked the world - all that remained of large parts of the country. The sheer scale was unprecedented: 230,000 people killed, 300,000 injured and 1.5million displaced.

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We Must Do More to Address Costs of Climate Change

(4) Comments | Posted November 13, 2012 | 5:00 PM

The devastation wrought by Hurricane Sandy reminds us once again of the destructive potential of extreme weather -- even in a developed country such as the United States, and even with ample warning and swift emergency response. From Kingston, Jamaica, to Jamaica, Queens, this "perfect storm" exacted a deadly toll...

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Democracy Cannot Be Exported or Imposed

(3) Comments | Posted September 15, 2011 | 3:32 PM

On this International Day of Democracy, we reflect on the human desire for dignity, inclusion and freedom, which has seen millions of people across the Arab world demanding change.

Many lives have been lost, and are still being lost, as regimes and their opponents have faced off against each...

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Opportunities for Economic and Political Inclusion in the Arab Spring

(0) Comments | Posted June 3, 2011 | 5:52 PM

In recent months, millions of people came onto the streets of a number of Arab States demanding change.

In Tunisia and Egypt, these uprisings led to the downfall of regimes. In Libya, intense conflict continues. Elsewhere, many lives have also been lost as regimes and their opponents have faced...

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Jobs, Equity and Voice: Why Both Economic and Political Inclusion Matter in the Arab World

(2) Comments | Posted April 7, 2011 | 7:52 PM

At this moment in history, with events unfolding in the Arab States, the world finds itself at a defining moment, the implications of which are enormous for our common future.

A combination of economic and political exclusion and injustice has brought millions of people in the Arab States region on...

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Women and Power

(2) Comments | Posted June 7, 2010 | 10:05 AM

As Prime Minister of my country for nine years and the first woman to lead the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), I believe that achieving gender equality is not only morally right, but also catalytic to development as a whole, creating political, economic, and social opportunities for women which benefit...

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