Source: Biography – Helen Clark, UNDP Administrator Helen Clark Biography of the Administrator of the United Nations Development Programme Helen Clark became the Administrator of the U…
Biography of the Administrator of the United Nations Development Programme
Helen Clark became the Administrator of the United Nations Development Programme on 17 April 2009, and is the first woman to lead the organization. She is also the Chair of the United Nations Development Group, a committee consisting of the heads of all UN funds, programmes and departments working on development issues.
Prior to her appointment with UNDP, Helen Clark served for nine years as Prime Minister of New Zealand, serving three successive terms from 1999 – 2008. Throughout her tenure as Prime Minister, Helen Clark engaged widely in policy development and advocacy across the international, economic, social and cultural spheres. Under her leadership, New Zealand achieved significant economic growth, low levels of unemployment, and high levels of investment in education and health, and in the well-being of families and older citizens. She and her government prioritized reconciliation and the settlement of historical grievances with New Zealand’s indigenous people and the development of an inclusive multicultural and multi-faith society.
Helen Clark advocated strongly for New Zealand’s comprehensive programme on sustainability and for tackling the problems of climate change. Her objectives have been to establish New Zealand as being among the world’s leading nations in dealing with these challenges. Helen Clark was also an active leader of her country’s foreign relations and policies, engaging in a wide range of international issues. As Prime Minister, Helen Clark was a member of the Council of Women World Leaders, an international network of current and former women presidents and prime ministers whose mission is to mobilize the highest-level women leaders globally for collective action on issues of critical importance to women and equitable development.
Helen Clark held ministerial responsibility during her nine years as Prime Minister for New Zealand’s intelligence agencies and for the portfolio of arts, culture and heritage. She has seen the promotion of this latter portfolio as important in expressing the unique identity of her nation in a positive way.
Helen Clark came to the role of Prime Minister after an extensive parliamentary and ministerial career. First elected to Parliament in 1981, Helen Clark was re-elected to her multicultural Auckland constituency for the tenth time in November 2008. Earlier in her career, she chaired Parliament’s Foreign Affairs Committee.
Between 1987 and 1990, she was a Minister responsible for first, the portfolios of Conservation and Housing, and then Health and Labour. She was Deputy Prime Minister between August 1989 and November 1990. From that date until December 1993 she served as Deputy Leader of the Opposition, and then as Leader of the Opposition until winning the election in November 1999.
Prior to entering the New Zealand Parliament, Helen Clark taught in the Political Studies Department of the University of Auckland. She graduated with a BA in 1971 and an MA with First Class Honours in 1974. She is married to Peter Davis, a Professor at Auckland University.
Post of the UNDP Administrator
The UNDP Administrator is appointed by the Secretary-General and confirmed by the General Assembly for a term of four years. Paul G. Hoffman was appointed as the first Administrator of UNDP in 1966 and served until retirement in 1972. David Owen, who led UNDP’s predecessor organization, the Expanded Programme of Technical Assistance (EPTA), was appointed as Mr. Hoffman’s Co-Administrator. Rudolph A. Peterson was appointed Administrator in 1972 followed by Bradford Morse in 1976; William H. Draper lll, 1986; James Gustave Speth, 1993 to 30 June 1999; Mark Malloch Brown, 1999-2005; and Kemal Derviş, 2005-2009.
The low representation of women in politics remains one of the most obvious obstacles preventing us from achieving gender equality in the world. In the Republic of Moldova, a medium income country in Eastern Europe that ranks 50th in the most recent Gender Inequality Index, we want to increase the pace of change and ensure that more women are getting involved in elections as candidates, voters, and electoral staff. In a context where gender inequality is constantly dismissed as a non-issue, we had to have data to back up our claims and push for change. So we partnered with the Moldovan Central Electoral Commission and developed the first-ever national set of statistics related to the participation of women and men in elections.
We need more women in politics – Here’s how to make quotas work
The low representation of women in politics remains one of the most obvious obstacles preventing us from achieving gender equality in the world.
In the Republic of Moldova, a medium income country in Eastern Europe that ranks 50th in the most recent Gender Inequality Index, we want to increase the pace of change and ensure that more women are getting involved in elections as candidates, voters, and electoral staff.
In a context where gender inequality is constantly dismissed as a non-issue, we had to have data to back up our claims and push for change. So we partnered with the Moldovan Central Electoral Commission and developed the first-ever national set of statistics related to the participation of women and men in elections.
To our surprise, the first thing we learned was that women in Moldova do get involved in politics.
At the local level, there is a massive representation of women in political parties and in electoral bodies. However, the higher the decision-making level we were looking at, the fewer women we could find. For example, even though membership rates in political parties for men and women are strikingly similar, only two out of 46 political parties in the country are headed by women.
This discrepancy is one of the reasons Moldova has recently adopted a 40 percent quota for the least represented gender in governmental offices and on the electoral lists for local and parliamentary elections. But according to our data, this has not led to the expected increase in representation for women.
While women make up nearly half of political party membership, the percentage of women members who are active in party structures declines as the geographic level increases. Source: OMNIBUS CBS-AXA, December 2015
Quotas for women and men in decision-making positions are one of the most common ways of ensuring that women don’t have to face the glass ceiling when advancing in the ranks of political parties and that they have equal chances to be represented in governments and legislatures.
However, sometimes the provisions of quota legislation can be too weak to have an impact.
In Moldova, the recently adopted law does not make any specifications about the placement of women and men in the candidate lists. This omission may seem innocuous, but the reality is that women often find themselves relegated to the bottom of lists, with only one in five candidates at the top being a woman.
We believe that things can only be changed if the problem is acknowledged. To reach that point, three things must happen:
- The electoral authority must acknowledge the problem and be cooperative in finding ways to fix it;
- A complete electoral database must be set up to allow for continuous in-depth analysis of data and trends that could be used to redesign public policies and bridge gender gaps; and
- Partnerships need to be established between the government, civil society, and international organizations like UNDP and UN Women to support the advancement of women in political and public life.
Only then will we be able to say we are moving towards a more equal world for women and men.
About the authors
Tanja Hollstein is an electoral specialist at UNDP in Moldova.
Victoria Ignat is a project manager for Women in Politics at UNDP in Moldova.
Follow her on Twitter:@Victoria_Ignat
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Child Brides Photo Series Proves Girls Are Simply ‘Too Young To Wed’
’s images aim to raise funds for girls forced into a practice that affects more than 14.2 million girls every year.
When Mejgon was 11 years old, her father sold her to a married 60-year-old Afghanistan man for two boxes of heroin.
“In my whole life, I’ve never felt love,” Mejgon, who endured years of abuse, told National Geographic photographer Stephanie Sinclair when she was 16.
Every year, 14.2 million girls like Mejgon are forced to marry before they turn 18, a damaging tradition that disproportionately affects poor girls and leaves them more susceptible to abuse, poverty and death due to childbirth and other health complications.
Sinclair met Mejgon at a safe house in Herat when she first began documenting the struggles and injustices child brides face. After learning that Mejgon had been sent back to live with her father, Sinclair felt emboldened to continue her photo initiative, which has now evolved into the “Too Young To Wed” series, a campaign that aims to raise awareness and funds for girls who are trapped in the cycle of child marriage.
“I have no idea what became of [Mejgon]. I’m sure it wasn’t good,” Sinclair told The Huffington Post. “The fact that I was powerless to do anything about it has been one of the main reasons why I continued the project and why I’m still working on it today.”
Sinclair started shooting child brides in Afghanistan in 2003, where 53 percent of girls marry before they turn 18. While the country banned the practice in 2009, advocates remain concerned about the effectiveness of such measures, which often go unenforced in the developing world.
However some are hopeful that the U.N.’s new Sustainable Development Goals, which aims to eliminate child marriage as part of the overall effort to achieve gender equality, could help put a stop to the practice.
Still, advocates, like Sinclair, look to on-the-ground groups, which are working to protect girls from child marriage and give them a refuge to escape if they are forced to wed.
Through Tuesday evening, Sinclair is selling the photos she’s taken in more than 10 countries from her Too Young To Wed series to support a number of organizations that are saving young, at-risk girls.
Part of the proceeds will support women and girls in Kargati Village in Nepal, which was devastated during the recent twin earthquakes. The earthquakes, which claimed more than 8,000 lives, has also subsequently put children at a higher risk of exploitation, according to UNICEF.
Child marriage rates are expected to soar in the disaster’s aftermath considering that parents who have lost everything can no longer afford to raise their daughters and orphaned girls will likely be preyed upon, Reuters reported.
Niruta, a subject Sinclair photographed in 2007, will be one of the beneficiaries of the Too Soon To Wed campaign’s efforts in Nepal.
Back in 2007, Sinclair photographed Niruta when she was 14 at her wedding in Kagati Village. She got pregnant while she was engaged to Durga, who was 17 at the time, and Niruta was nine months pregnant at the ceremony.
Pregnancy is a major risk for girls for young girls whose bodies aren’t fully prepared to conceive. In fact, complications due to pregnancy and childbirth are theleading cause of death among girls ages 15 to 19, according to UNICEF.
Niruta’s family’s home was flattened during the earthquake and they’re currently living in a cow stall, Sinclair told HuffPost. She hopes the funds raised will help the family to build a new home and Sinclair also aims to rebuild the village’s school, which was destroyed during the earthquake.
The initiative will also support the Samburu Girls Foundation in Kenya, a program that rescues girls from a number of harmful practices, including child marriage, female genital mutilation and beading, which is when families give their girls over for sex to relatives in the warrior class who wouldn’t be allowed to otherwise marry.
To date, the group has placed 125 girls in boarding schools and has rescued a total of 200 girls, who are also provided with food and security, among other services.
Too Young To Wed hopes to provide daily supplies to the Samburu Girls Foundation and act as a bridge to other donor networks.
The group is also extending its efforts to Ethiopia where41 percent of girls are married before 18, according to UNICEF.
Too Young To Wed is focusing on the village of Gombat, where Sinclair photographed a girl named Destaye, who was married at age 11 to an Ethiopian Orthodox priest in his mid-20s.
Ultimately, though, Sinclair’s goal is to expand the group’s efforts to touch even more underserved communities affected by child marriage.
“Our main focus will always be to provide powerful visual storytelling, then bring our girls’ stories to the world to help inspire an end to child marriage,” Sinclair told HuffPost. “We would also like to widen the scope of these on the ground projects. It’s important to us that the communities who share their stories and are open to change, find the support they need.”
The first straw poll to test the support of Security Council members for candidates vying to become the next United Nations secretary-general occurred Thursday morning. The vote took place amid strong interest by global media who report on the world body as well as the dozen candidates, the UN’s 193 member states and people who follow international affairs.
Beyond this coterie of foreign affairs aficionados, New Yorkers couldn’t care less about the election.
As one lawyer who lives in Brooklyn said, shrugging and laughing, “I didn’t know this was happening.”
Gleaning results kept the UN beehive busy the day of the straw poll, July 21. Results trickled in by word of mouth instead of officially: António Guterres, a Portuguese who until recently was head of the UN refugee agency; Danilo Turk, who has been president of Slovenia and a former assistant secretary-general for political affairs; and Irina Bokova, who runs Unesco, were reported to be the top favorites: all UN veterans and Western-leaning people in the post-Brexit era.
Vuk Jeremic, a Serbian former foreign minister and past president of the UN General Assembly, and Srgjan Kerim, who has been a foreign minister for Macedonia, also tied for third, AP reported.
The first informal results could sorely disappoint efforts by women’s groups internationally who are hoping a woman gets the job, changing course for the UN’s 71-year history of male leadership. The secretary-general holds a renewable five-year term, and Ban Ki-moon, the current one, finishes a 10-year term on Dec. 31, 2016.
The first straw poll, conducted in papal secrecy by the 15 elected and permanent members of the Security Council (14 members are men), is intended to winnow the 12 candidates for the UN chief. It was done through confidential ballots marked “encourage,” “discourage” and “no opinion.”
The votes of the council’s permanent five members — Britain, China, France, Russia and the United States — were closely watched. Agence France-Presse, which is subsidized indirectly by the French government, was one of the first major media to report on the results.
“We are not going to preview our position on the individual candidates, needless to say, but we made no secret of the fact that we’re looking for somebody with great leadership skills, great management skills, someone who has a commitment to fairness and accountability and who stays true to the founding principles of the United Nations,” said Samantha Power, the US ambassador to the UN, before she went into the council chamber to participate in the straw poll.
A total of 180 ballots were tallied by Japan, as rotating president of the council in July. The ballots did not show the names of the countries voting and the ballots were supposed to be destroyed after the results were counted, yet this information could not be confirmed. As the UN video above shows, Japan’s ambassador to the UN, Koro Bessho, revealed virtually nothing about the vote except to say it had taken place.
For some Latin American delegates, waiting outside the council chambers to hear news on the results, the lack of transparency was insulting. “How do we even know the straw poll took place?” one delegate asked.
Nearby, media jostled for news from ambassadors, thrusting cellphones at them to record and elicit quotable tidbits, with France, Venezuela, Britain and the US happy to deliver bland sound bites on what kind of candidates they wanted.
The last time the council held a straw poll was 10 years ago, when it picked Ban, a Korean, as secretary-general. The format has not changed.
The British mission to the UN, which meets regularly with media who report on the UN, has been the most informative among all council members about the selection process.
Matthew Rycroft, Britain’s ambassador to the UN, who has repeatedly said that the next secretary-general should be a woman, suddenly switched gears, saying before he went into vote that it was time for a woman, but that he wouldn’t veto a man. (Rycroft has a new boss, Boris Johnson, the foreign minister.)
Despite the General Assembly’s president, Mogens Lykketoft, spending most of his yearlong term prying open the highly secretive process of selecting a secretary-general, the Security Council is keeping the straw poll results quiet, regardless of obvious leaks by diplomats. Lykketoft had publicly iterated to UN member states his desire to be told the results.
It didn’t happen.
“In my view, limiting the communication to the fact that the informal straw poll has taken place without any further detail adds little value and does not live up to the expectations of the membership and the new standard of openness and transparency,” Lykketoft said in aletter posted right after the straw poll was held.
The countries representing the 12 candidates — six men and six women — were apparently notified of the results immediately, before ambassadors left the council chamber, but the media and many national delegations were left seeking clues like bloodhounds.
The contingent of delegates from Latin America, which has two candidates running from the region, Susana Malcorra of Argentina and Christiana Figueres of Costa Rica, found the refusal of the council to state the results a defiance of a large movement by non-Western members to turn the election into a transparent procedure. Malcorra and Figueres placed below the top-six candidates.
“I would have liked to have more member states here pressuring the council to be more transparent,” said one of the Latin American delegates, speaking on background only — belying her own call for openness.
And Russia, which is keeping its grip on Eastern Europe’s turn to choose the next leader of the UN, has demanded that candidates travel to Moscow to meet with Sergey Lavrov, the foreign minister.
Russia also reportedly asked all candidates, a day before the straw poll, to declare if they had dual nationalities. The Latin American candidates and an Eastern European candidate may have more than one nationality.
The council is expected to do more straw polls with a final vote intended for October, when Russia holds the council presidency. Even that deadline is uncertain, as council members are unwilling to name a date should a more attractive candidate comes along.
When a candidate is chosen by the council, his or her name will be “recommended” to the General Assembly, whose 193 members cast the ultimate vote. A group of academics and UN experts who make up the Campaign to Elect a Woman Secretary-General had sent a letterwith dozens of prominent signatures to the council the night before the straw poll to encourage members to support a feminist candidate.
Disrupting past traditions, the council’s bow to more openness entailed holding informal “dialogues” with each of the 12 candidates in June and July.
The interviews were held among all council members at off-site locations, and candidates were told not to utter a word to media about the contents. At meetings held at the Japanese mission to the UN, “a fine selection of teas and coffee” was served, a British delegate noted on Twitter.
Some candidates dared to leak details, however, including that most questions posed by council members repeated themes voiced in public hearings with candidates in the General Assembly earlier this year. So, candidates were tested again on such perennial matters as UN management and reform, terrorism, peacekeeping, gender equality, human rights and the new global development goals.
One council member ventured to ask candidates to name which UN agency they thought did the best work. But most members fixated on the more burning question of how to make the UN “relevant again,” according to one candidate. That question reflected, this person said, the council’s growing, if belated, awareness that it has been unable to stop wars throughout the UN’s history and peace remains a mirage.
And now it appears that the council may be unable to elect a female to the secretary-general post — never mind that half the world is female.
Source: DW News
Helen Clark on breaking the glass ceiling