Jacinda Ardern is the new leader of the opposition Labour party in New Zealand. And she is the youngest ever to fulfill this position at 37. But rather than celebrating her victory, the country had newfound issues with her. Her ability to procreate.
Ardern has previously revealed that she would like to have children, but noting that it was not mutually exclusive with her political ambitions. In 24 hours of taking over as opposition leader, questions about these plans came up twice. On the first occasion, she answered the question by stating “I’ve been really open about that dilemma because I think probably lots of women face it. For me, my position is no different to the woman who works three jobs, or who might be in a position where they are juggling lots of responsibilities.”
However, when the question was asked again only a few hours later, Ardern had no more patience, especially in the way the question was posed. When the radio interviewer Mark Richardson asked her “The question is, is it OK for a PM to take maternity leave while in office?” and claimed that the public “need to know that type of thing from the women you are employing.” Ardern was less than impressed.
She said she has personally chosen to answer such questions but “It is totally unacceptable in 2017 to say that women should have to answer that question in the workplace, it is unacceptable, it is unacceptable.” pointing her finger directly at Richardson. “It is a women’s decision about when they choose to have children and it should not predetermine whether or not they are given a job or have job opportunities.”
After the radio interview, many supported Ardern’s position including the nation’s prime minister and father of six children Bill English. He said “I think it’s entirely [Ms Ardern’s] business,” he told stuff.co.nz. “Politics is tough on families, it’s tough on relationships.”
Others have also showed support on social media, reminding that young male politicians rarely get questions about their family lives.
If you’re wondering why the reaction to Jacinda Ardern baby q, it’s b/c NZ women have been reminded they’re baby makers first and foremost
— Frances Cook (@FrancesCook) August 1, 2017
I didn’t realise Jacinda Ardern was the first person to ever run for Prime Minister who was also able to become a parent.
— Mathew Grocott (@mathewgrocott) August 1, 2017
I see @jacindaardern has already been asked about babies vs career. Please can every nob who asks that ask the same of Bill English?
— Hilary Barry (@Hilary_Barry) August 1, 2017