Former New Zealand PM Helen Clark officially in the running to replace Ban Ki-Moon as UN Secretary General

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    Helen Clark, former Prime Minister of New Zealand and current Administrator of the United Nations Development Program, speaks during an interview in New York, April 4, 2016. REUTERS/Brendan McDermid
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    New Zealand's Prime Minister Helen Clark submits her ballot at Kowhai Primary School during New Zealand's general election in Auckland, November 8, 2008. REUTERS/Nigel Marple
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Former Prime Minister of New Zealand Helen Clark has announced her candidacy to become the first woman to run the United Nations (UN) shortly after being nominated for the UN Secretary General post by New Zealand’s current Prime Minister John Key.

“I am putting myself forward based on proven leadership experience over close to three decades, both in my own country and here at the United Nations,” Clark declared, speaking from New York.

“I do think I have the experience and attributes to do this job.”

The 66-year-old is currently the UN’s most powerful woman, heading the body’s largest agency, the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP). She has held this post for the past seven years, governing the UN’s extensive development agenda which aims to eradicate poverty and reduce global inequalities and exclusion.

Clark also served as the prime minister of New Zealand from 1999 to 2008, being the first woman to do so. She remained in office for three consecutive terms, proving to be one tough cookie who not only survived but thrived in New Zealand’s tumultuous political landscape.

New Zealand PM John Key expressed his full support for Clark in his nomination speech, saying: 

“There are major global challenges facing the world today and the United Nations needs a proven leader who can be pragmatic and effective.”

He added New Zealand’s neutral position in global politics would give Clark a big advantage in running the UN.

But Clarke isn’t the only woman running to become the UN’s next chief diplomat. Three other women are also vying for the position -- Bulgarian politician Irina Bokova, currently the director-general of UNESCO; Croatian sociologist and politician Vesna Pusic, who helped bring Croatia into the EU; and Moldova’s Natalia Gherman, former acting prime minister of the Eastern European country.

The current elections have also highlighted the UN’s effort to create a more gender-equal cabinet following a campaign held last February to elect a female UN secretary general.

“There have been eight male secretaries-general, but never a female, even though women represent half the world’s population,” the campaign website reads.

Clark’s nomination has set Twitter alight, with her supporters tweeting from all over the globe:

With Ban Ki-moon’s term ending only in December, we’ve got a few suspenseful months ahead of us, but one thing’s for sure: 2016 is going to be a gripping year for female political leaders.

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