Career

Helen Clark says she's excited by the upsurge of feminism in NZ at the moment

'Women have put up with the most extraordinary harassment and assault and now they're calling it out.'

Former Prime Minister Rt. Hon. Helen Clark believes feminism is on the rise at the moment and she couldn't be more thrilled.
"I think the feminist movement is on an upward surge of activity at the moment. I think #Metoo has been partly responsible for that because women have just had enough.
"Women have put up with the most extraordinary harassment and assault and now they're calling it out. They're not going to put up with it and I think that's got women thinking about 'why are we treated in this way?'. So, a new surge of feminism I find exciting."
Clark shares her views in an interview for a special NZ on Air-funded project to mark 125 years of suffrage in New Zealand. Clark is one of eight prominent Kiwi women to bring the words of suffragette Kate Sheppard to life in a rousing video that can be viewed online here.
As part of the project the eight women were also interviewed about their personal influences and views on women's issues.
Clark talks passionately about how women have "come up against" sexism in every corner of the world and identifies the time she applied for and missed out on the UN secretary general role as one of those moments for her personally.
"That clearly was a step too far for a number of the member states and that's still a glass ceiling to be broken. I will be giving my full support to the next woman who has a good go at it," she says, "because it's really reprehensible that nine secretary generals consecutively have been male. Surely the 10th can be a female."
Clark, who was 22nd on Forbes' 100 most influential people list in 2016, reveals that because she grew up in a family "with no boys in it" she hadn't even realised there were barriers to girls and women in New Zealand achieving their goals until she began her political career.
"I didn't' know of any barriers at all to me because I was a girl. I began to realise that not everybody felt this way about women doing things when I first put up my hand for a serious nomination for parliament," she says. "The critics came out and said 'she will never do well in that seat because it's a working man's seat'.
"Well, actually the working men tended to have women partners and daughters and mothers and they voted as well."
Watch the video above to see her full three-minute interview, in which Helen Clark also identifies the areas in New Zealand that she feels need to be worked on to further give women a voice.