Fair Play

Former New Zealand Prime Minister Talks Women’s Sport

Helen Clark, MP

Zoe George sits down with former New Zealand Prime Minister Helen Clark to talk about women in sport and welcomes Locker Room as a partner of Fair Play and Susanne McFadden co-hosts

Fair Play is a co-production of Radio New Zealand, Locker Room and WiSP Sports

Host: Zoe George with guest co-host Susanne McFadden from Locker Room

Podcast length: 36′ 01″ 

Zoe George at Radio New Zealand sits down with the former Prime Minister of New Zealand Right Honorable Helen Clark to discuss her favorite sport, what we need to do to improve coverage of women in sport, and how we lean in to encourage more women into leadership roles. We hear from some of the attendees of the recent International Work Group Captains Luncheon about the big challenge facing women and girls today. We catch up with para-climber Rachel Maia about her recovery following her amputation. And of course it’s not Fair Play without an update from the toilets at the Basin Reserve.  Today’s guest co-host is Susanne McFadden from Locker Room, our new partner for the Fair Play podcast alongside Radio New Zealand.  

Former New Zealand Prime Minister the Rt Hon Helen Clark is a formidable leader. But she, like many women in leadership, has had to fight every step of the way.  Women in sport and leadership need to make their own luck, build strong teams and be resilient, says Helen Clark.

Once the most powerful woman in the United Nations and one of the longest service Prime Ministers of New Zealand, Helen Clark is passing on her knowledge in her new role as global patron of the International Work Group (IWG) – Women in Sport Aotearoa; an organization that advocates for change in sport for women and girls.

Clark says it’s tough making it to the top.

“What I worked out a very long time ago was that no one opened the door and said, ‘Helen, come on in, it’s yours’. You have to fight every step of the way,” she says.  “And that’s going to be the case with all these causes for gender equality … for women in sport … we have to push for it, because no one else is going to.”

In leadership, knock-backs do come. Clark, the second female prime minister of New Zealand, was defeated in the 2009 election, and was unsuccessful in her 2016 bid to become the United Nations Secretary General. Knock-backs and barriers also impact those advocating for fair and equal access to sport for women and girls.

“You have to get in and make your luck and hustle. If at first you don’t succeed, try, try and try again.” Clark says “I learned the importance of perseverance and great resilience.

“If you’re trying to push in where women haven’t traditionally been, there will be push back, and you have to be resilient to that.”

Clark says that “push back” is happening right now in sport in New Zealand and it’s only a matter of time before changes happen. But she has some advice for those who want to kick in those doors.

“The key thing is to build alliances because you can’t do it on your own,” she says. “Even if you’re the person that’s going for the position, you have to have a team behind you.”

That team should also be diverse, including men. “It’s very important to have male supporters as well,” Clark says. “Put a lot of emphasis on getting that team around you that shares your objectives and wants to see you succeed.”

Leadership can come at all levels of sport, from grassroots to the boardroom. Clark says more investment in the women’s game will help that.

LISTEN to more episodes of FAIR PLAY HERE

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Photo: Right Honorable Helen Clark [wikicommons]
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