New Zealand’s Jacinda Ardern Is About to Take Maternity Leave. Why That’s a Good Thing for Both Women and Men

New Zealand is readying for the arrival of its newest member of the executive wing: the first child of Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern.

The 37-year-old leader has returned home to the Auckland area to prepare for the birth of her baby, which is due on Sunday. Once the baby is born, Ardern will take a six week leave from office, making her the first elected leader ever to take maternity leave.

“There is a level of excitement because it is novel and because it’s really rare to see this globally. It’s quite a big moment,” says Dr. Jennifer Curtin, a professor of politics and international relations at the University of Auckland. “But also this happens in a year when the focus has been on how far have women come in this country.”

Indeed, New Zealand is ahead of the game when it comes to gender parity. Two women, Helen Clark and Jenny Shipley, have already held the Prime Ministerial post in the past. The South Pacific nation has one of the lowest pay gaps in the world, and it prides itself as the first country to have established women’s suffrage in 1893 — the 125th anniversary of which is being celebrated this year.

The only other world leader to give birth while in office was the late Pakistan Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto, to her daughter Bakhtawar in 1990. In April Illinois Senator Tammy Duckworth became the first member of the U.S. Senate to give birth while in office. She made history again when she brought her baby girl onto the Senate floor for a vote weeks later. Only 10 women in U.S. history have given birth while serving in Congress.

“We had mania when she first became leader, ‘Jacinda Mania,’” says Curtin. “We will see the equivalent once the baby arrives.”

That ‘Jacinda Mania’ was evident when Ardern first announced her pregnancy in January — just two months after her center-left government came to power — and when, while visibly pregnant, she wore a traditional Maori cloak known as a korowai to meet Queen Elizabeth II.

Queen Elizabeth II greets Jacinda Ardern, Prime Minister of New Zealand at during the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting at Buckingham Palace on April 19, 2018 in London, England.

” data-medium-file=”https://timedotcom.files.wordpress.com/2018/06/gettyimages-948819142.jpg?quality=85&w=300″ data-large-file=”https://timedotcom.files.wordpress.com/2018/06/gettyimages-948819142.jpg?quality=85&w=600″ src=”https://timedotcom.files.wordpress.com/2018/06/gettyimages-948819142.jpg?w=300&quality=85&w=558″ alt=”CHOGM London 2018 – Day 4″ width=”558″ height=”372″>Victoria Jones—WPA Pool/Getty ImagesQueen Elizabeth II greets Jacinda Ardern, Prime Minister of New Zealand at during the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting at Buckingham Palace on April 19, 2018 in London, England.

Ardern has been dubbed a trailblazer. Not least because her partner and father of the baby, Clarke Gayford, will assume the role of full-time dad while she leads the country. But the world’s youngest female leader is steadfastly calm about the baby mania and has has regularly downplayed the hype and rejected the ‘wonder woman’ labels.

“I’m not a trailblazer,” Ardern said in a news conference in January. “I am not the first woman to multitask. I am …read more

Source:: Time – World

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