Helen Clark was Administrator of the United Nations Development Programme from April 2009 to April 2017, and was the first woman to lead the organization. She served at the same time as Chair of the United Nations 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 organization.
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. She 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, Helen Clark engaged widely in policy development and advocacy across the international, economic, social, environmental, and cultural spheres. Under her leadership, New Zealand achieved significant economic growth, low levels of unemployment, and high levels of investment in education, health, and the well-being of families and older citizens. She advocated strongly for New Zealand’s comprehensive program 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. She also served as Minister of Arts, Culture, and Heritage while she was Prime Minister.
Helen is 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 came to the role of Prime Minister after an extensive parliamentary and ministerial career. Prior to entering the New Zealand Parliament, Helen Clark taught in the Political Studies Department of the University of Auckland.