How Jacinda Ardern became New Zealand’s youngest female prime minister?? – By Easha Kothari
Jacinda Ardern is the current Prime Minister of New Zealand. She became the youngest female head of state, assuming office on 26 October 2017. She is a member of the NZ Labour Party and describes herself as a social democrat and progressive. She has been praised for her handling of the 2017 Christchurch Mosque shootings and also the NZ response to Covid-19, which saw an early lockdown and limited spread compared to other western economies. he has also sought to raise global awareness for issues such as the environment and human rights. Her leadership style has gained her an international profile much greater than usual for NZ leaders.
• Birthday: July 26, 1980
• Nationality: New Zealander
• Age: 40 Years
• Sun Sign: Leo
• Also Known As: Jacinda Kate Laurell Ardern
• Born Country: New Zealand
• Born In: Hamilton, New Zealand
• Famous As: Prime Minister Of New Zealand FAMILY
• Father: Ross Ardern
• Mother: Laurell Ardern (Née Bottomley)
• Siblings: Louise Ardern
• Children: Neve Te Aroha Ardern Gayford
• Partner: Clarke Gayford (2013)
As a teenager, she described herself as an ‘acceptable nerd’. “I was novel, but I never felt ostracised.” Influenced by her upbringing, she had a strong sense of social conscience.
She got involved in politics from a young age, joining the Labour Party aged 17 and becoming a prominent member of the Young Labour section. After university, she spent six months in New York, volunteering in a soup kitchen and contributing to women’s rights campaigning. When she ran out of money, she applied for a job in the UK Cabinet Office by phone and she was accepted.
A great year 2008 in Jacinda Ardern’s life:
1. Elected President of the International Union of Socialist Youth and spent time in countries around the world.
2. Elected for the first time to the New Zealand Parliament. (A rising star in the Labour Party, she was placed 20th on the party’s list and secured a place in parliament. Labour lost the election, but she was given a place on the opposition front benches as a spokesperson for Youth Affairs.)
On becoming leader of the opposition, she characterised her approach as ‘relentless positivity.’ She also focused on issues such as reducing child poverty, improving the environment and redistributive tax policies. Her youthful looks and sense of dynamism led to a growth in support, and international coverage of the new leader.
- Prime Minister of New Zealand
- $1 Million Raised
- 14 points increase in support
- 46 Parliament seats won
- A mere two months after Jacinda Ardern became the youngest-ever leader of New Zealand’s Labour Party, she became the country’s youngest Prime Minister in 150 years, and its youngest female PM, ever. Her rise was so meteoric that it earned a proper name: Jacindamania.
Ardern describes herself as a republican and has suggested a national debate on removing the monarch of New Zealand as its head of state. She is progressive on social issues, voting to decriminalise abortion. She supported same-sex marriage and in 2018 was the first New Zealand prime minister to attend a Pride Parade celebrating LGBTQ. She is committed to New Zealand’s nuclear-free policy and believes much more needs to be done on protecting the environment. She has supported reviewing the laws around the drug and will consider decriminalising marijuana. She has described capitalism as a failure, especially for the record levels of homelessness in NZ, despite years of economic growth. Asked directly if capitalism has failed low-income Kiwis, Ms Ardern replied:
“If you have hundreds of thousands of children living in homes without enough to survive, that’s a blatant failure. What else could you describe it as?”
Asked if she was a radical, she stated that she prefers gradual change, but does believe in the fundamental principles of justice and equality.
“Some people have asked me if I’m a radical. My answer to that is very simple. I’m from Morrinsville. Where I come from a radical is someone who chooses to drive a Toyota rather than a Holden or a Ford. I am, though, a Social Democrat. I believe strongly in the values of human rights, social justice, equality democracy and the role of communities.”
Despite being a self-styled progressive, she has also expressed the desire to limit immigration due to the fact New Zealand infrastructure has struggled to cope with the influx of people leading to a surge in house prices and homelessness.
“We want New Zealand to be the first place in the world where our budget is not presented simply under the umbrella of pure economic measures, and often inadequate ones at that, but one that demonstrates the overall wellbeing of our country and its people.” – Jacinda Ardern, Prime Minister of New Zealand.
“But, the day that she became Leader and within fortyeight hours, we raised over $200,000. Within that whole first month, we raised more than our original target for the year.” Eventually NZ Labour raised over $1 million online in 2017—more than double their initial fundraising target.
Jacinda Ardern had been the leader of New Zealand’s Labour party for less than 24 hours when she was asked whether she felt a woman could have both a baby and a high-powered career.
Ms Ardern went on to give birth in office, proving women can indeed do both (although, as she herself has been quick to point out, not without a supportive partner).
However, while becoming a first-time mum at 37, she also led New Zealand through three tumultuous years in which it endured its worst-ever terror attack, a deadly volcano eruption and a global pandemic that has tested leaders around the globe.
She has won plaudits on the international stage, and admiration from many at home. Things have not always been plain sailing – some accuse her of not fulfilling key election promises, like reducing child poverty, others scoff at the “woke” policies that she backs on social and racial justice.
But, Jacinda Ardern went into 2020 general election with an approval rating of 55%, which translated into a landslide victory.
Ardern was engaged to be married to Clarke Gayford. They first met in 2012 but didn’t become partners until 2016. On 19 January 2018, shortly after becoming Prime Minister, she announced she was having her first child. It made her only the second elected head of state to give birth whilst in office (Benazir Bhutto was first in 1990). Her daughter was given name Neve Te Aroha, (Aroha is Maori for love)
‘Be strong, be kind’
In March 2019, however, it would be the empathetic Ardern who would bring the country together in the wake of the Christchurch mosque attacks, which left 51 people dead. She was unequivocal that the gunman was a terrorist – but stressed that he did not represent the people of New Zealand.
“You may have chosen us, but we utterly reject and condemn you,” she told the gunman – who she has refused to name in public, to deny him notoriety – in an address just hours later.
Over the next few days, she would be seen comforting those who had lost loved ones. She also announced a change to the country’s gun laws, banning the sale of all semiautomatic weapons and assault rifles with a speed which prompted questions in other countries, including in the US.
“Many of those who will have been directly affected by this shooting may be migrants to New Zealand, they may even be refugees here… They are us. The person who has perpetuated this violence against us is not. They have no place in New Zealand. There is no place in New Zealand for such acts of extreme and unprecedented violence, which it is clear this act was.”
Then, in December another tragedy hit – this time, a volcano eruption on the privately owned White Island, or Whakaari. Seventeen people, most of them tourists from Australia and the US, died. Again, Ms Ardern led the country in mourning.
But by February 2020, the Labour Party were trailing the National Party in the polls, with headlines predicting a tight election race. Jacinda Ardern’s continued popularity abroad was not reflected in New Zealand, where some were cross she had not fulfilled election promises.
Child poverty, in particular, continues to be a key issue in a country, with about one in eight children living in material hardship, according to StatsNZ. Within the Maori community, the figure rises to almost a quarter, while almost 28.6% of Pacific children are living in material hardship. Last December, Children’s Commissioner Andrew Becroft said the government needed to “move much faster” to deal with the issue. Ms Ardern has argued things are getting better – albeit slowly.
Those polls, however, came before the pandemic hit. Jacinda Ardern acted quickly, bringing the country together under her oft repeated slogan “be strong, be kind”. In early March, she ordered any arrivals to New Zealand had to self-isolate. By the end of the month, the borders were closed to almost all non-citizens or residents, and a nationwide lockdown had been put in place.
The policy of “hard and early” appears to have worked. The economy suffered a massive blow, but is now Covidfree – apart from some cases in quarantine.
Polls going into October’s election, delayed for a month because of the pandemic, put the Labour Party in front.
And now Jacinda Ardern is projected to make history by winning the first majority since proportional representation was brought in during the 1990s.
ARDERN AND DONALD TRUMP
Ardern has been critical of Donald Trump and his policies, though since becoming Prime Minister, like many leaders – has sought to avoid a diplomatic incident. On 21 January 2017, she took part in the Global Women’s March – a worldwide protest against newly elected President Donald Trump. Since becoming Prime Minister, she criticised Trump’s recognition of Jerusalem as capital of Israel. However, she met Trump on 23 September 2019 and says they had a good conversation, where Trump expressed interest in NZ’s gun buyback policy – introduced since the Christchurch shooting.
In an address to the United Nations General Assembly, she expressed support for the UN’s multilateralism and emphasised the importance of countries working together to tackle issues such as climate change and global poverty.
“Not since the inception of the United Nations has there been a greater example of the importance of collective action and multilateralism, than climate change. It should be a rallying cry to all of us and yet there is a hesitance we can ill afford.”
Whereas the world’s rightwing populists stigmatize and stereotype marginalized people, Ardern has established kindness as a key principle for government policy.
She has been innovative in stating that kindness should be a motive for undertaking action. She has sought to improve relations with Australia despite being from different political traditions to Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull. However, in 2020, she criticised the decision to deport New Zealanders who had been living in Australia without citizenship as ‘corrosive’ to trust between the nations.
4 defining characteristics of Jacinda Ardern’s Leadership style
- She’s improving women’s rights
- Her passion for climate change
- Her approach to motherhood and multitasking
- She listens to (and learns from) children
Meet Sanna Marin – Finland’s female millennial prime minister, from an LGBT family, leading the war on coronavirus
When we talk about politicians we have a specific image in mind. It almost always is an elderly man or a woman. The person has a stern look on the face and walks around in a certain measured way. The definition doesn’t fit the new-gen politicians like Finland Prime Minister Sanna Marin.
Germany, Taiwan, New Zealand, Iceland, Norway, Denmark and Finland. These countries are among those with the lowest numbers of cases, deaths and, so far, the best responses to the coronavirus crisis. They also share a striking similarity: they are run and governed by strong, decisive and empowered female leaders.
Birth -Helsinki Age – 34 years Prime minister Since December 2019
Childhood -Raised by her mom after divorce of her mom. She belongs from “Rainbow Family” – her mother found love with another woman, something that she has said made her feel “invisible” growing up, when samesex relationships were not recognised in Finland.
Despite her age, she has solid credentials.
Marin was the first in her family to go to university, and has said that her working-class background cemented her commitment to fighting all forms of inequality.
Political Growth – 2013 – Became the chair of the city council in Tampere, Finland’s third biggest city which has a population of around 230,000 people, the role raised her profile and popularity. 2015 – Elected to Parliament, 2019 – Served as deputy for several months and was later appointed minister for transport and communication. The former prime minister of Finland Antti Rinne resigned last Tuesday after intense criticisms over the way he handled a postal strike.
She has also said she wants to prioritise closing the gender pay gap (as in the UK, Finnish women earn on average $0.83 for every $1 men earn) and to encourage men to take up parental leave, which she raised from just over two months to almost seven months, bringing it in line with maternity leave.
Marin has tried to model these ideals in her own life. She and her partner, the former professional footballer Markus Raikkonen, each took six months’ parental leave to care for their daughter, who is now two.
Marin may be young, but that youth hasn’t inspired widespread scepticism – she currently enjoys an 85 per cent approval rating among Finns for her preparedness. How did she get this support and become an effective crisis leader? We take a closer look at this decidedly millennial politician, and examine why she seems to be on the right track.
She’s taking a practical and an innovative approach to fighting coronavirus. For the first time in history, Finland has invoked its emergency powers, unveiling €15 billion (US$16.9 billion) to help its economy. She also ordered the closure of schools, museums and public gathering establishments, as well as Finland’s borders.
Perhaps inspired by millennial outlook, she has employed influencers to disseminate pertinent information on social media. According to Politico, Finland is the only country in the world that has defined social media as “a critical operator”.
She leads a coalition government and cabinet dominated by women.
The future is female – and it has arrived in Finland. The coalition government’s five party leaders are all women, and the cabinet Marin leads has 12 out of 19 female members. Feminists around the world have congratulated her vision, and Marin has been hailed as an icon of progressive ideas, inclusivity and feminism.
The photographer is trying to coax the Prime Minister of Finland into a three-quarter pose, with knees turned slightly to the side, hands demurely joined in her lap. But she didn’t grow up dreaming of being Prime Minister. “I could never have imagined that. Politicians and politics seemed very far away,” she says of her working-class upbringing. She was the first in her family to attend university, and it was only there that she developed a political conscience. “My background influenced how I see society, how I see equality between people,” she says. “But it’s not because I’m from a rainbow family that I’m in politics. I’m in politics because I thought that the older generation wasn’t doing enough about the big issues of the future. I needed to act. I couldn’t just think, It’s somebody else’s job.”
Sanna Marin isn’t having it. Just 11 days after taking office, she faces the camera squarely, legs slightly apart, and rests her hands firmly on her thighs. “This is how you would do it if I were a man,” she says.
But for Marin, the focus on attributes out of her control has been more a distraction than a cause for celebration. “It’s more work,” she says of the attention. “Of course, it’s also a great opportunity for Finland to present itself, and I’m grateful for that. But I think if you focus on the issues, and not the person, it’s easier.”
She believe’s in a 24 hour working week
Marin has spoken out to support the idea of a 24-hour working week. In August, she told the Helsinki Times: “Why couldn’t it be the next step? Is eight hours really the ultimate truth? I believe people deserve to spend more time with their families, loved ones, hobbies, and other aspects of life, such as culture.” Although her proposal was shut down by the political opposition, let’s watch this space.
She’s an environmentalist
Finding a solution to climate change is one of Marin’s priorities as prime minister. In the prime minister’s traditional New Year message, she said she wanted Finland to be a “financially responsible, socially equitable and environmental sustainable society”. Her goal is to make the country carbon-neutral by 2035.
She’s big on Instagram
Marin has an Instagram account that she regularly updates, as most people of her gen tend to do – there’s some very normal, candid photos of her breastfeeding, enjoying a holiday, and at parties (avec baby bump). Drawing comparisons to AOC’s mastering of social media, Marin is an example of yet another politician who lives a relatively normal, pretty wholesome life online when she isn’t running a country.