Video message by Helen Clark, Head of UNDG Regional Group, UNDP Admnistrator: Launch of the Women in Politics in Moldova programme
It is a great pleasure to address this prominent audience on such an important occasion related to women’s political empowerment and leadership - a topic of great importance to the United Nations and to me personally.
I was a Member of Parliament in my country, New Zealand, for over 27 years, and served three terms as Prime Minister.
Being selected for a parliamentary constituency where my party was likely to win was one of the hardest initial steps. Many viewed that constituency as a“‘working man’s seat” – forgetting that there were as many female as male voters. I faced many of the challenges that would-be politicians amongst you no doubt face – I had to battle with other people’s assumptions – including those of the news media. I had to build networks of support. In public life, I needed to nurture alliances around issues I thought were important, but would not necessarily have been high on the priorities of a parliament where the majority of members were male.
Now the role of women in public life is much better understood. The global consultations around the future sustainable development goals – in which Moldova took such an active part – show that supporting the needs and aspirations of just over fifty per cent of the world’s population, women, is key to achieving human development and a sustainable future. Yet while the proportion of women in national parliaments has grown since the adoption of the Millennium Development Goals in 2000, women still comprise only 21 per cent of the world’s parliamentarians. No country will reach its full potential if its female citizens do not enjoy full equality. Equal representation in parliaments must be our objective.
When I visited Moldova in 2010, I was pleased to note the increasing representation of women in the parliament, and I acknowledge encouraging trends since, including there being more women ministers and two Deputy Prime Ministers. I trust that the initiative we are launching today together, with the Government of Sweden and civil society organisations, will further increase the voice and participation of women in public life in Moldova. I thank the Government of Sweden, especially Ambassador Tersman in Moldova, for their unwavering support.
It takes courage to step forward for public office, but I strongly encourage those among you who believe you have something to contribute to do so. Believe in yourself, accept the support being offered by others, and also support others along the path. All the best to each and every one of you.