Former Prime Minister Helen Clark says she would encourage any young women thinking about entering politics to “go for it” but they would need to “toughen up” – which was no bad thing.

When Clark entered Parliament she says the number of women doubled from four to eight which was “quite pathetic” but thinks parity with the number of males will be achieved in the near future.

Clark says Jacinda Ardern becoming Prime Minister at the age of 37 and having a child while leading the country is an “inspiration for all young women”.

The former Prime Minister believes we are now in the third phase of feminism.

“The first stage goes back to suffrage in the 1890s, the second came with the post-war baby boomers who weren’t going to be constrained like their mothers, in the third phase we are now dealing with the unfinished business.”

Clark says there are two major issues still to be resolved – the pay gap and gender-based family and sexual violence.

“The pay gap is 10 percent and closing … but we have an issue with gender-based violence – worst in the OECD – how can that be in our lovely country? I don’t get it. It is a pernicious blight on women’s march to equality.”

Helen Clark was interviewed by Jennifer Curtin, Professor of Politics and Director of the Public Policy Institute at the University of Auckland.

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