Reflections on Women in Leadership

“If you look for the women, you will find them,” was one of the most poignant lines to come from Helen Clark, Administrator of the United Nations Development Programme as she addressed a central London lecture theatre.

Helen, who was the first woman elected as Prime Minister of New Zealand, was referring to the lack of women in pubic life and the ways in which the imbalance can be addressed.

Helen Clark at the Barclays Women of the Year Lecture
Helen Clark at the Barclays Women of the Year Lecture

“Reflections on Women in Leadership” with Helen Clark was a Women of the Year lecture consisting of an interview by BBC journalist Sarah Montague – and LEADARISE London were delighted to attend.

The discussion covered Helen’s upbringing in rural New Zealand, her first foray into politics, becoming Prime Minster and her subsequent career at the UNDP.

Helen was appointed to her current role as Administrator of the UNDP in 2009, the third highest UN position. She is the first woman to lead the organization and was ranked by Forbes as the 21st most powerful woman in the world.

“Women’s views of their own lives and careers – our expectations have changed”

During a Q & A session, Helen was asked what had changed since she first started working in the late 1960s. “Women’s views of their own lives and careers – our expectations have changed,” but she said we still have some way to go, and referenced the often unfair division of work in the home. “You have to keep fighting the battles – if you don’t there will always be assumptions that women have to do the majority of work in the home and childcare- we still need something of a revolution when it comes to home and family life.”

When the discussion moved on to the perception of women’s importance in the workplace Helen concluded, “Let’s not think these battles have been won. It will continue to be a battle in our lifetimes.”

Article by: Catriona Matheson

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