THE AMAZING PRIME MINISTER WHO’S TAKING THE WORLD BY STORM
New Zealand, a small island country, on the edge of the world. Home to 4.8 million people, this country has been making it to the global news because of their ‘Rockstar’ Prime Minister, as the New Zealanders like to call her. She is a feminist and supporter of gay rights. She’s also worked to combat climate change and continued New Zealand’s nuclear-free policy.
Jacinda Ardern became the youngest female Prime Minister at the age of just 37 years. She has set an example around the world for politicians, women and mothers.
Jacinda Kate Laurell Ardern was elected in August 2017 to become the leader of the New Zealand Labour Party and then in October 2017 became the Prime Minister of New Zealand. She grew up in a Mormon family in the town of
Murupara, best known as a centre of Maori gang activity, where seeing ‘children without shoes on their feet or anything to eat for lunch’ inspired her to eventually enter into politics.
She earned a bachelor’s degree in Communication Studies and joined the Labour Party when she was only 17 years old. After her graduation, Ardern became a researcher for another Labour MP, Phil Goff. This experience led her into earning a position on the staff of Prime Minister Helen Clark- the second woman to hold New Zealand’s highest office and Ardern’s political hero and mentor.
In 2005, Ardern worked in the cabinet office of British Prime Minister Tony Blair, serving as an associate director for Better Regulation Executive for two and a half years. At the age of 28 years, she entered the House of Representatives as the youngest member. In her maiden speech as the leader, she called for the introduction of compulsory instruction in the Maori language in New Zealand schools and she criticized the government for its ‘shameful’ response to climate change.
She has been faced with a lot of challenges as a leader all throughout her term- a terrorist attack, a volcanic eruption and a global pandemic. She has faced these hurdles with a smiling face and with a toddler in her lap.
Jacinda Ardern has been praised for her unique approach to handling situations. People feel that Ardern ‘doesn’t preach to them; she’s standing with them,’ Helen Clark, New Zealand’s former prime minister stated.
Her condemning the Christchurch attack and standing along in solidarity with the victim’s families with a headscarf to respect Islamic culture was praised around the world.
She has been in constant contact with the people of New Zealand during the lockdown encouraging them and praising them for settling with the new normal. She even replied to the question of a kid asking about Easter Bunnies for the occasion of Easter. She has been keeping everyone happy and busy by telling people to leave teddy bears on their windows to brighten up each other’s day while social distancing.
Her strong leadership has made New Zealand one of the few countries to have succeeded to flatten the curve.
Ardern has constantly been setting an example around the world for women who are struggling to juggle between parenting and their careers. Being the second woman prime minister to have given birth in office, after Benazir Bhutto - the former Prime Minister of Pakistan- Ardern has been very vocal about all the issues that she had to face.
She was the first leader to have come along with her child to a UN Meeting as she was breast-feeding her daughter at the time.
She wishes that all the women around the world do not have to choose between having a family and having a career; but can do both if the circumstances around them are in their favour.
Ardern also released a 2-minute video listing all the achievements of her government. A few of the things from the list are:
● Banning military-style semi-automatic weapons
● Removal of terrorist material online
● Ban on single-use plastic bags
● Planting of 140 million trees
● Extension of paid parental leave
● Making highways safer
● Reducing the prison population
Jacinda’s is one such beautiful country, led and taken care of by a woman leader. She cares about her people and has ensured that she is with them through every challenge.
Other world leaders can learn from her empathetic leadership style, her progressive stance and strategy on important issues as well as her vision of empowering women. She is also an inspiration to youth to reach for the stars and serve society with a sense of purpose.