Will Helen Clark be the first woman to run the UN?

Jane Martinson – Guardian – Thursday, 30 January 2014 (originally published 27 Jan)

Helen Clark
You’ve just got to keep standing’ … Helen Clark. Image: Sarah Lee for the Guardian

In the course of a political career that has lasted over 30 years, Helen Clark only thought of quitting once. With a personal poll rating of just 2% soon after becoming party leader in 1993, she asked a few close friends whether there was any point continuing. “They said, ‘You’ve just got to keep standing there’, which was the best advice. If you keep standing, actually very few will come after you.”

But women who want to combine motherhood with powerful positions should be able to, she says. “It really points to the need for a lot more discussion of families and of the role of boys and girls, women and men, so that the boys grow up with an expectation to be an equal in the household.”

Clark went on to become New Zealand’s first elected female prime minister in 1999 – leading for three consecutive terms – and is now the most powerful woman at the United Nations, working her second term as head of the UN development program. She could well become the first woman to lead the organization once the incumbent Ban Ki-Moon stands down in a few years . . .

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