Inspiring Thursday: Jacinda Ardern
“I want to be a good leader and not a good lady leader. I don’t want to be known as the woman who gave birth.”
Jacinda Ardern was born in Hamilton, New Zealand in 1980. She attended a state school in Morrinsville and Murupara where she also grew up. After that, she studied and in 2001 graduated from the University of Waikato. After her graduation, she became a researcher for MP Phil Goff which later lead her to a position on the staff of Prime Minister Helen Clark, who was the second women to become a Prime Minister in New Zealand and also Ardern’s mentor and role model.
Soon after that, Ardern left New Zealand and came to the United Kingdom where she started to work in cabinet office of Prime Minister Tony Blair. After she came back to New Zealand, Ardern started her political career. In 2008, she was elected to the House of Representatives as its youngest member.
As Ardern’s political profile increased, she became a very well-known figure in New Zealand’ politics. She stood up for same-sex marriage, climate change, Maori minority, equality and many more. She describes herself as a social democrat, progressive and feminist. In 2017 Ardern won in the parliamentary by-election for the vacant seat representing the solidly Labour district of Mount Albert in Auckland. After Labour’s deputy leader, Annette King, announced her resignation, Ardern was elected leader of Labour Party.
Jacinda Ardern became a “rock star” politician and her charisma, optimism and strength quickly energised voters especially women and young people. Labour’s polling numbers dramatically increased. Although the Labour Party did not win the election, they were able to with the Green Party form the coalition and Jacinda Ardern became the youngest Prime Minister in New Zealand. After becoming the Prime Minister, she has focused mainly on the housing crisis, social inequality, child poverty. In 2019, she led the country through the Christchurch mosque shooting and introduction of strict gun laws. In 2020, she directed the response to the COVID-19 pandemic and thanks to regulations by her government, New Zealand became one of the most successful countries in the management of COVID-19 crisis. Moreover, in 2020, Ardern led the Labour Party to a historic victory in the 2020 elections, gaining a majority of 65 seats in Parliament, the first time this has happened since the introduction of proportional representation.
During her time as a Prime Minister, Jacinda Ardern gave birth to her first child, a daughter Neve. She thus became the first leader of a country in nearly 30 years to give birth while in office. Although she received a lot of backlash for her decision to become a mother while in office, it did not stop her. She navigated New Zealand through a huge amount of crisis very successfully and as she said: “It is the woman’s decision about when they choose to have children. It should not predetermine whether or not they are given a job or have job opportunities.”
Jacinda Ardern united New Zealand in most difficult moments. She is an inspiration and role model for a lot of women so they know that there is no limitation of what they can and can’t do.