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New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern makes headlines with baby news

Editor: Qian Ding 丨CCTV.com

01-26-2018 15:23 BJT

By Rabi Sankar Bosu, Indian freelance contributor to Chinese media outlets

New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern's pregnancy announcement had captured much attention from the global media. She is expected to be the first New Zealand Prime Minister to give birth while in office. It's a good reminder that her pregnancy and child-rearing should not hinder women's opportunities in the workplace.

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern and her partner Clarke Gayford speak to the media January 19 in Auckland.

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern and her partner Clarke Gayford speak to the media January 19 in Auckland.

On January 19, Ardern announced that she and her partner TV presenter Clarke Gayford were expecting their first child in mid-June this year. In 2017, she discovered that she was pregnant just six days before becoming the Prime Minister-elect.

Jenny Shipley, New Zealand's first female Prime Minister, said, "Jacinda Ardern is capable of being our Prime Minister and a mother, and it will add insight and joy to her work and we should celebrate that." 

Ending the center-right National Party's nine-year grip on power, the 37-year-old Labour Party leader was sworn in as the 40th Prime Minister of New Zealand on October 26 last year with a pledge to make her country "modern, progressive, inclusive, and equal." Her ascension as the country's youngest female Prime Minister in more than 150 years, and the youngest female leader of any developed economy in the world, represents a remarkable rise for empowering women.

Ardern has become an inspiration for all young women everywhere, showing them that they never have to compromise on what they want - that they too can have power, a career and a family. It's refreshing to hear when asked by a reporter how she managed to set up a government at the same time as having morning sickness, Ardern replied: "It's what ladies do."

Ardern's pregnancy announcement is a groundbreaking example to working women and mothers all around the world. Her announcement also sheds light on working mothers who breastfeed worldwide. The World Health Organization recommends that a newborn be breastfed for a minimum of six months. With Indian laws allowing only 3 months of maternity leave and most workplaces not equipped with facilities to help breastfeeding mothers, many working mothers in India are unable to breastfeed their babies for the duration they desire.

Nevertheless, Ardern will not be the first leader to give birth in office. Former Prime Minister of Pakistan, Benazir Bhutto gave birth to her second girl child named Bakhtawar while in office in January 1990. At the time, Pakistani opposition leaders criticized Bhutto's pregnancy, saying she should not have had a child while in office. Fearing her opposition would use her time giving birth to oust her from power, Bhutto went back to work, the day after giving birth. Her ascension to power was historic in itself, being not only the first woman elected prime minister of Pakistan but the first woman elected to head a Muslim nation.

New Zealand was the first country to give votes to women in September 1893, due to a powerful suffrage movement led by Kate Sheppard. Now 125 years later, the nation is leading the cause for gender equality. It should be marked here that during the August 2017 election, Ardern told Mark Richardson who went head to head with her, that it was "totally unacceptable" that women be asked in the workplace whether they were intending to have children.

(The opinions expressed here do not necessarily reflect the opinions of Panview or CCTV.com)


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