Helen Clark, the administrator of the United Nations Development Program (UNDP) since 2009, has just been named one of Forbes Magazine’s 100 most powerful women in the world for the ninth straight year. Citing the progress she had made overseeing the UNDP and the cornucopia of projects she is currently monitoring and implementing, as well as the massive (yet still undersized) budget she administers, Forbes has again chosen to recognize Ms. Clark for the amazing work she does on a daily basis, making development seem almost easy to the untrained eye.
Born in New Zealand, Ms. Clark has a long history of political activism. She got involved with party politics as a young college graduate, working with the Labour Party and protesting against the Vietnam War. Her determination and bright, innovative thinking led her to eventually become party leader, and then Prime Minister of New Zealand when the Labour Party came into power in 1999. Ms. Clark implemented many policies designed to improve income mobility and general quality of life in her country. Her administration brought about reliable economic growth, interest-free student loans, an increase in the minimum wage, action on climate change, and the creation of several other programs aimed at financial and medical benefits for everyday citizens. She also worked to improve relations with indigenous cultures, striving towards a country with truly multicultural ties.
In 2009, after the Labour party was defeated in New Zealand’s elections, Ms. Clark formally left politics to become the UNDP’s first female administrator. She has now been re-appointed to a second term, during which she assures that “sustainable human development and poverty eradication will continue to be at the heart of what UNDP does.” Ms. Clark remains firmly committed to the achievement of the Millennium Development goals; she expects to “accelerate efforts” to meet the 2015 targets “and beyond.”
From being the first female Prime Minister of New Zealand to being the first female administrator of the UNDP, Helen Clark has set herself up as a role model for any young girl looking to make massive contributions to our global society in the fields of poverty, economics, politics, the environment, labor, development, or global health. She has somehow managed to implement meaningful advances in all of these areas and more, and she still continues to work hard every day to keep accomplishing more.
— Jake Simon
Sources: UNDP, Wikipedia