WOMEN, EQUALITY, POWER: Selected Speeches from a Life of Leadership.

JurisdictionNew Zealand
Date01 September 2020
AuthorPartow, Negar

WOMEN, EQUALITY, POWER: Selected Speeches from a Life of Leadership

Author: Helen Clark

Published by: Allen and Unwin, Auckland, 2018, 432pp, $45.

This is a brilliant book for anyone who pursues a political or leadership career or is interested in the history of New Zealand women in leadership. It will immensely benefit students of political science, international relations and development studies and all women who deal with patriarchal structures and barriers in their professional lives. The thread that joins this selection of speeches is women's participation and leadership, but the book tells a very rich story of a lifelong political career that Clark pursued in order to create a better world. The book begins with Helen Clark's maiden speech to the New Zealand Parliament in 1982 and follows her through her career from being a member of Parliament, to a successful three-term Tabour prime minister, to her role as the first woman administrator of the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP). It portrays a fascinating story of a woman who has, throughout her career, passionately promoted gender equality and the importance of women's participation.

What makes Helen Clark a unique leader and a source of inspiration for the generation that followed her--much like current Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern--are sets of values and ideals that govern her moral campus as a leader. One of the most admirable of these characteristics is her commitment to a value-based leadership model that looks beyond the opportunities that realpolitik offers and remains true to her ideals. These values, partly imbedded in New Zealand culture and partly developed through her various political careers, are based on protecting the rights, security and freedom of individuals, and being fair in opinion and decisions. In notes that she wrote for her speeches in commemoration of people of influence, she highlights these values as the factors that attracted her. For instance, in her tribute to Te Ankinui Dame Te Ataurangikaahu, Clark admired her for being the leader of her people, who devoted her life to reconciliation, supported her people during the Waitangi Tribunal settlement negotiations and was the patron of the Maori Women's Welfare League.

Helen Clark's devotion to peace and security is another consistent theme in her career. From her maiden speech in Parliament to her speech in Fiji in 2018, Clark advocated for the role of small states in the international security...

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