Helen Clark served for nine years as Prime Minister of New Zealand, serving three successive terms from 1999-2008. Later she was the Administrator of the United Nations Development Programme from 2009-17.
Throughout her tenure as Prime Minister, 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.
Clark advocated strongly for New Zealand’s comprehensive program 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. As Prime Minister, 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.
Between 1987-90, she was a Minister responsible for first, the portfolios of Conservation and Housing, and then Health and Labour. She was Deputy Prime Minister 1989-90. From that date until 1993 she served as Deputy Leader of the Opposition, and then as Leader of the Opposition until winning the election in 1999.