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The women who shape New Zealand: Helen Clark

Iconic and influential Kiwi woman Helen Clark shares her inspirations, triumphs and failures, and reveals what it took to become who she is.

**Helen Clark

**Head of the United Nations Development Programme & former prime minister.One of New Zealand’s longestserving prime ministers, and our first elected female PM, Helen holds the third top role at the UN. She is a member of the Order of New Zealand (ONZ) and has previously been voted Greatest Living New Zealander.

**Who are the New Zealand women who you believe have most shaped our nation?

**Kate Sheppard, leader of the women’s suffrage movement; Elizabeth McCombs, first elected woman member of parliament; Iriaka Ratana, first Maori woman member of parliament; Mabel Howard, first woman cabinet minister; and Dame Cath Tizard, first woman governor-general and mayor of Auckland.

Who is/was the most important female mentor in your life?

My mother, Margaret Helen Clark.

**What is the best advice you were given as a young woman?

**To carry on my education as far as I could.

**What do you wish you had known at age 20?

**Not to waste any time – life is too short for that.

**What/who is your greatest inspiration now?

**Nelson Mandela – for a lifetime of sacrifice, leadership and belief.

**What is the achievement in your career you are most proud of?

**Being prime minister of New Zealand for nine years.

**What do you believe is the biggest hurdle women still face in their careers and home life?

**Achieving work-life balance – which is hard, whatever one’s income level, for a range of reasons.

**Through your work now with the UNDP, what do you believe New Zealand women should be most grateful for or proud of?

**Enjoying full, equal rights under the law and living in a country which is not mired in armed violence.

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