Tuesday, April 16, 2024

Former PM receives honorary degree

Former Prime Minister, Helen Clark this week received a Doctor of Laws, honoris causa, from the University of Toronto.

In a statement, the University said Clark would receive the honorary degree for her outstanding contribution to the public good and her commitment to a just, thriving, equitable and sustainable world.

“In her three consecutive terms as prime minister, Clark oversaw the implementation of increases to the minimum wage, paid parental leave and the recognition of same sex unions,” the University said.

“Her government established climate change and environmental protection measures, launched an emissions trading regime and worked towards carbon neutrality – all while the country recorded solid economic growth and decreasing unemployment.”

Clark followed up her political career by pursuing public service at the global level – as head of the United Nations Development Programme, where she led international co-operation on sustainable development, gender equality and public health.

Today, she continues to have active leadership roles in global organizations such as: Partnership for Maternal, Newborn and Child Health; Chatham House; Women Political Leaders; the Global Leadership Foundation; the World Economic Forum; the Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative; the Global Commission on Drug Policy; and the Global Future Council on Health and Healthcare. In 2023, she was admitted to a group of 12 global leaders who advocate for social justice, human rights, sustainability and peace. The group was set up by Nelson Mandela in 2007. She is also patron of the Helen Clark Foundation – a non-profit, non-partisan, public policy think tank for generating and promoting policy research in New Zealand.

In her speech to graduands of U of T Mississauga, Clark noted that the world is grappling with many pressing issues – from the need for climate action and conflict resolution to eradicating global poverty in all its dimensions.

“The challenges are great, but there is a niche for each one of us in finding solutions,” she said.

“My call to each of today’s graduands is to find that niche for yourself, and to be a force for a better world.

“Your education has given you the knowledge and skills both to build solid careers and to make a difference for the better for your community, your country, and our world.”

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