Jenny Shipley was the first female prime minister of New Zealand. Born in Southland, she trained as a teacher and joined her husband Burton Shipley in a large farming partnership before becoming involved in local government politics. During the 1990s, she served as minister of Women’s Affairs, Health, Social Welfare, State Services, State Owned Enterprises, Transport, and the Accident Compensation Commission, and was a driving force in the economic and social reforms during this period. Elected prime minister in 1997, she guided New Zealand through the “Asian crisis” and back to positive economic growth. She led the New Zealand delegation to the 1995 Beijing United Nations Conference on Women.
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