Zonta International announced today that it would award The Right Honorable Helen Clark, Former Prime Minister of New Zealand and Former Administrator of the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and Chair of the United Nations Development Group (UNDG), an honorary membership in the organization, which seeks to empower women worldwide through service and advocacy. Ms. Clark, who served three successive terms as Prime Minster of New Zealand from 1999 to 2008 and is a steadfast champion of inclusive and sustainable development, joins 40 women whom Zonta has recognized for their significant contributions to advancing the status of women worldwide.
“It’s an honor to welcome Ms. Clark to our honorary membership,” said Zonta International President Sonja Hönig Schough. “Her work in advocating for inclusive and sustainable development and full inclusion and empowerment of women in development, as well as her advocacy efforts to end violence against women align with Zonta International’s mission. I am proud to welcome her to Zonta.”
Helen Clark served as Administrator of the United Nations Development Program and Chair of the United Nations Development Group, a committee consisting of the heads of all UN funds, programmes and departments working on development issues. She was the first woman to assume these positions, which she held for eight years before stepping down in April 2017.
Helen Clark said: “I am honoured to be awarded honorary membership of Zonta, a service organisation dedicated to the advancement of women which I have long admired.”
Prior to her appointment with UNDP, Helen Clark was the first woman elected as Prime Minister of New Zealand, serving three successive terms from 1999 to 2008. Throughout her tenure as Prime Minister, she engaged widely in policy development and advocacy across the international, economic, social, environmental, and cultural spheres. Under her leadership, New Zealand achieved significant economic growth, low levels of unemployment, and high levels of investment in education, health, and the well-being of families and older citizens. She and her government prioritized reconciliation and the settlement of historical grievances with indigenous people, and the development of an inclusive multicultural and multi-faith society. She advocated strongly for New Zealand’s comprehensive program on sustainability, including on addressing climate change.
Helen Clark came to the role of Prime Minister after an extensive parliamentary and ministerial career. Prior to entering the New Zealand Parliament, Helen Clark taught in the Political Studies Department of the University of Auckland. She graduated from the University of Auckland with a BA in 1971, and an MA with First Class Honours in 1974.
The Zonta International Board awards lifelong International Honorary Membership to individuals who have helped to change societal attitudes about women, or have improved conditions for women beyond the national level. Since 1970, Zonta International has recognized 40 women for their significant contributions to advancing the status of women worldwide.