Q&A: Helen Clark on cracking the glass ceiling and life post-UNDP

It has been less than two months since Helen Clark finished her time at the head of the United Nations Development Programme. But never one to rest or shy away from controversy, Clark is already approaching new challenges head on — including highlighting the United Nations’ lack of transparency in the election of its secretary-general.

At the 2017 Research for Development Impact conference in Sydney on June 13, Clark gave a keynote speech discussing her experience on the value of broad partnerships to deliver sustainable development outcomes. Clark made time to speak with Devex about life post-UNDP and creating chips on the glass ceiling for other women to pierce through where she did not.

You are here in Sydney not just for the Research for Development Impact conference but also the Sydney Film Festival, where they are screening the documentary My Life with Helen about your campaign for U.N. secretary-general. From that experience, does it bring home how important you have been in breaking the glass ceiling for women?

The filmmaker, Gaylene Preston, is one of New Zealand’s best known filmmakers. When she approached me, I said “yes, why not.” At that time, I had made no decision to run for the secretary-general job, so she started because she was interested in me as a change agent.

We started in Botswana and then of course the secretary-general story started to overtake the documentary.

There is always a lot of interest in New Zealand on what Helen is doing, and I think the movie will be of great interest to them. But it is also of broader interest — it sheds light on the opaque processes of the U.N. And that’s something worthy of wider debate.

Read the interview in full here.