Women Leaders


Silvia Cartwright
She is the governor-general of New Zealand.

Dame Silvia Cartwright has had a distinguished career as a lawyer and jurist, and as an advocate for women and women's rights. She has also achieved several 'firsts' in the New Zealand legal profession.

Dame Silvia was educated in Dunedin, gaining her LLB from Otago University in 1967. After several years in private practice, she became one of New Zealand's first female judges in 1981.

Since 1993, she has been a member of the United Nations committee monitoring compliance with the United Nations Convention to Eliminate All Forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW), contributing particularly to the drafting of one of the Convention's optional protocols, which defines a complaint mechanism. In 1995, Dame Silvia chaired a Gender Equity Education Programme for all New Zealand judges with the then Chief Justice.

Source: Biography of the governor-general

Helen Clark
On 27 November 1999 Helen Clark was elected Prime Minister of New Zealand. Helen Clark is also Minister for Arts, Culture and Heritage, and has responsibility for the New Zealand Security Intelligence Service and Ministerial services. Her areas of interest include social policy and international affairs.

Helen Clark has held office at every level of the Labour Party. She has been a member of the Party's New Zealand executive from 1978 until September 1988 and again from April 1989. She has been the president of the Labour Youth Council, an executive member of the Party's Auckland Regional Council, secretary of the Labour Women's Council and a member of the Policy Council. She has represented the Labour Party at congresses of the Socialist International and the Socialist International Women in 1976, 1978, 1983, and 1986, at an Asia-Pacific Socialist Organisation Conference held in Sydney in 1981, and at the Socialist International Party Leaders' Meeting in Sydney in 1991.

Source and related links:

Prime Minister's official website


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Sian Elias
In March 1999, Dame Sian Elias was appointed New Zealand's first woman Chief Justice.

Justice Elias graduated from Auckland University and was admitted in 1970. She then gained a JSM from Stanford University in the US in 1972. Employed by Turner Hopkins and Partners from 1972, she commenced practice as a barrister in 1975 and was appointed a Queen's Counsel in 1988.

She was made a High Court Judge in 1995 and was warranted from time to time to sit on the Court of Appeal in 1998 and 1999. She was sworn-in at the Auckland High Court on 17 May 1999.

The Chief Justice

Margaret Wilson
She is the Attorney-General of New Zealand.

Margaret has a large list of community involvements, she was Chair for the National Maternity Advisory Committee 1998, a member of the Judicial Working Group on Gender Equality 1995-1997. In 1995 Margaret was a member of the team to review the Crown Forestry Rental Trust and a member of the Advisory Group on restructuring of the Ministry of Justice. A member of the Editorial Board, New Zealand Journal of Industrial Relations 1994. Law Commissioner of the Law Commission 1988-1989. Chairwoman, TV3 News Limited 1988-1989 and Chairwoman, National Advisory Council on Employment of women 1987 - 1991. Director of the Reserve Bank of New Zealand 1985-1989. Margaret was also Convenor of the Government Working Party on Equal Pay and Equal Opportunities 1988. A Member of the Advisory Committee to establish the Ministry of Women's Affairs 1985. A Founder Member and Vice President of the Auckland Women Lawyers' Association 1984. Made a life member in 1985. An Executive Member, Vice-chair and Chair, Auckland Branch, Association of University Teachers - AUT Salary Negotiation. 1976 - 1984. Founder Editor, New Zealand Journal of Industrial Relations 1976 - 1977. Acting Editor for Recent Law 1974. Founder Member of the Industrial Relations Society 1973.Margaret worked as a secretary for the Legal Employers Union 1970 - 1971 and a Law Clerk and Solicitor for Peter Jenkins, Barrister and Solicitor in Auckland 1970 - 1972.

Source and relevant links:
Portfolio: Margaret Wilson


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Dated: 16Oct2002