So the prime minister of New Zealand – Jacinda Ardern – is having a baby. That makes her one of only two female leaders in history to give birth while in power (the other was Pakistan’s prime minister Benazir Bhutto who gave birth in 1990 and was assassinated in 2007). So it’s pretty big and great news (though it’s insane that such a thing is pretty big and great news in 2018)! It’s about time the world gets to see that women can, in fact, procreate AND work at the same time.
And we thought 2017 was a big year! Clarke and I are really excited that in June our team will expand from two to three, and that we’ll be joining the many parents out there who wear two hats. I’ll be Prime Minister AND a mum, and Clarke will be “first man of fishing” and stay at home dad. I think it’s fair to say that this will be a wee one that a village will raise, but we couldn’t be more excited. I know there will be lots of questions, and we’ll answer all of them (I can assure you we have a plan all ready to go!) But for now, bring on 2018.
However, not everybody thinks that it’s great news…
Ugh. Let’s discuss. Firstly, “she should have to step down straight away”. Ummm, why? Is it illegal to give birth and hold a job at the same time? I don’t think so! And Ardern plans to take 6 weeks off to give birth and recover, after which time she will return to work. Is it because, regardless of the process of actually giving birth, she can’t be a mother and the prime minister at the same time? Countless men have successfully run countries and been fathers at the same time. I say countless because it hasn’t actually been counted… there are no stats on the matter. Because it’s totally fine for men to have children while in power. There is zero reason why it shouldn’t be totally fine for women to have children while in power too.
Secondly, “let’s be honest, not so great for the country”. Again: ummm, why? How is the combination of the prime minister being a woman, having a baby, and resultingly, being a mother an inherently bad thing for the country? If Ardern was a man, having a baby, and resultingly, being a father would be a-okay. It’s accepted, that men in power have children: Bill English, the previous prime minister, had six children. Somehow New Zealand survived.
Thirdly, “Winny [Winston Peters – the deputy prime minister] for PM while she abandons the job to look after baby. God help us all.” Because that’s exactly what she’s going to do, abandon her job. Like every female who has given birth before her, she will simply not show up to work and leave the country in a perpetual state of disarray. I somehow don’t think so.
Lastly, “I call it lying by omission Pregnant before Election and not sharing such facts with voters – you would never ever have got in Government”. This one is extra sad. To begin with, Ardern found out after the election (20 days after to be exact). But even if she did find out before, 1) she would be under no obligation to tell anybody, especially considering she was in her first trimester, and 2) if she did tell the country, the news should not have affected her election anyway. New Zealand literally has laws to protect against such discrimination. 1) “Employers are NOT allowed to ask potential employees if they are pregnant, or if they plan to have a family or get pregnant in the future” and 2) “you may have been discriminated against because of your pregnancy if you are refused employment or promotion, dismissed or made redundant”. Case in point.
Unfortunately, it continues:
“No I don’t think it’s appropriate for the pm to be pregnant. Its hard enough for her to be taken seriously on the world stage as it is.” Why? Because she’s a woman? Ridiculous.
“So who will Ardern neglect, her child or her country? She can’t fully dedicate her attention and time to both. It’s simple logic that you can be a mother or a full time worker but you can’t be both.” Says who? This is most definitely not ‘simple logic’. Millions of women all over the world are mothers and full-time workers at the same time. In fact, millions of families have two working parents. Ardern’s partner will be a stay-at-home dad – which will give her enormous support, more so than many other working mothers before her.
And one more just for the lolz…
It’s 2018 people, get with the program. Women are human too, and just as capable as men. They shouldn’t be treated any differently. A mother can do everything that a father can do. I am immensely proud to be a New Zealander, and I will unequivocally support Ardern as she flies in the face of sexism, ignorance, judgment, and discrimination as both a prime minister and a mother.