Jacinda Ardern has shown leaders how it's done
Following the news that New Zealand PM Jacinda Ardern will be stepping down next month, Dr Miriam Marra offers hers thoughts on the legacy the often divisive leader will leave.
When Jacinda Ardern was elected prime minister in 2017 at the age of 37, she was the youngest woman head of government in the world. Just one year into the job she gave birth to her child and by then she was just the second elected world leader to ever give birth while in office, after Pakistan's Benazir Bhutto in 1990.
While we state these facts and highlight how 'special' they are or seem, my view is that one of Jacinda Ardern’s greatest achievements is to have been able to ‘live through them', providing a sense of normality and consistency: the experience of being a country leader, a mother, and a life partner (while clearly showing the support received by her family), was not too much trumpeted: it was effectively exercised. Now, her honesty in talking about stepping down and feeling burned out is also refreshing. In politics, often leaders try too hard to keep their positions even when times have changed and the leadership needs to change with it.
Therefore, Ms Ardern has not only been a good female leader, but also one that has shown how it should be done in our current times. Her effectiveness, empathy and highly-communicative approach to big events such as the Covid-19 pandemic, the Christchurch mosque shootings, and the Whakaari volcano eruption, should be certainly looked upon as examples of how gender diversity and female leadership can exemplify the qualities of an effective leader of the future.