Big Visions for UNDP’s Leading Woman

Former New Zealand Prime Minister Helen Clark, currently administrator of the United Nations Development Program, features in CNN’s monthly column, “Leading Women”, which connects readers to “extraordinary women of our time.”

Almost a decade before German Chancellor Angela Merkel was toasting a third consecutive term in office, Clark was on the other side of the world celebrating her own successful third election.

Clark, the leader of the New Zealand Labour Party, led the country for nine years, from 1999 to 2008. That’s just two years less than British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher. And six years longer than recently ousted Australian Prime Minister Julia Gillard.

Since leaving politics and joining the United Nations in 2009, Clark’s international profile has continued to grow – this year Forbes’ ranked her as the 21st most powerful woman in the world.

“I could not have credibly done this job [at the United Nations] if I had not had the experience of leading a small country,” she said.

Clark is also the first female to head the United Nations Development Program, overseeing 8000 staff in 177 countries, and an annual budget of $5.8 billion.

Her vision is a big one: “Eradication of poverty and tackling exclusion and inequality in our world – and doing it in a sustainable way.”


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