Helen Clark was Prime Minister of New Zealand for three successive terms between 1999–2008 and was the first woman to be elected as Prime Minister in New Zealand.
Throughout her tenure as Prime Minister, and as a Member of Parliament over 27 years, Clark 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, engaging in a wide range of international issues.
Clark came to the role of Prime Minister after an extensive parliamentary and ministerial career. Prior to entering the New Zealand Parliament, Clark taught in the Political Studies Department of the University of Auckland.
In 2009, Clark became Administrator of the UN Development Programme. She was the first woman to lead the organisation, and served two terms there. At the same time, she was Chair of the UN Development Group, a committee consisting of all UN funds, programs, 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.
Clark continues to be a strong voice for sustainable development, climate action, gender equality and women’s leadership, peace and justice, and action on non-communicable diseases and on HIV.