Jacinda Ardern, a 21st Century leader

Jacinda Ardern has been Prime Minister of New Zealand since 2017 and has gained the world’s popularity with her revolutionary ideas and groundbreaking concepts. She became the youngest female head of government at 37 years-old and has led New Zealand through COVID-19 and Christchurch mosque shootings. She is one of the two world leaders to give birth while in office. 

On March 15th, 2019 two shootings took place in Christchurch, New Zealand. The devastating attacks killed 51 people and injured 49. Jacinda Ardern proceeded to take action the next day as she announced in the Beehive theatre “I can tell you one thing right now, our gun laws will change.” She also described that the attack was no longer an act of violence but a terrorist attack. Ardern met up with the families of the victims and leaders of the Christchurch muslim community while wearing a hijab, a symbol of respect, to honour them. Six days after the attack Ardern announced a ban on all military style semi-automatics and assault rifles in New Zealand. She was praised worldwide for taking such rapid action on gun control. She proved herself to be an empathetic person and lead New Zealand through such a tragic event. 

She has also demonstrated acts of true leadership through a crisis by the recent events of COVID-19. Ardern put New Zealand on a national lockdown very early in the outbreak compared to other countries. To this day, New Zealand has had 1,154 cases of COVID-19 and only 22 deaths. Ardern first established 4 weeks of lockdown with a little over 100 cases. She gave clear instructions; no meetings, no travelling by car unless it is for shopping for food or medicine. Jacinda Ardern said that she “was not willing to put the lives of her citizens in danger”. As of 30th of May, New Zealand only has one active case. Jacinda Ardern, once again, has shown her excellent management under pressure. She has been praised internationally by eliminating the coronavirus in New Zealand.  

On June 21st 2018 Jacinda Ardern gave birth to a beautiful girl named Neve Te Aroha. She arrived at the public hospital in her own car while her husband drived waving any special treatment. Jacinda Ardern is the first world leader to take maternity leave while in office. The parliament voted to extend her maternity leave to 18 weeks but she only took 6 and said that she was “by no means the first woman to multitask” and that she could “do the job and be a mother”. She was asked in an interview if women should be asked if they want to have children before giving them a job and she replied; “It is totally unacceptable in 2017 to say that women should have to answer that question in the workplace, It is a women’s decision about when they choose to have children. It should not predetermine whether or not they are given a job.” She has also been told by many New Zealanders that she is the mother they never knew they needed. 

She has time and time again shown support for all of New Zealand’s citizens. She is the first Prime Minister to march in the gay parade and when she was asked if it felt momentous to be the first she simply replied; “probably should have been done a while ago I guess.” 

She is not only concerned about the well-being of the citizens of New Zealand but also about the environment in general. She once said, “We are here because our planet is warming. Undeniably it is warming.” New Zealand has drastically changed by having Jacinda Ardern as Prime Minister. She promises that the next generations will know that New Zealand was on the “right side of history”. Ardern has committed the country to reduce its carbon emissions to zero by 2050. All single-use plastic has been banned since July 1st 2019. This ban will help New Zealand reduce the amount of plastic in the environment. 

The world needs more leaders like Jacinda Ardern. More leaders that make change when it is needed and show empathy to the whole country’s population. More leaders that take action about topics like gun control and climate change. More leaders that show support to all types of communities. More leaders that raise awareness about topics like child poverty, HIV and social inequalities. We need more leaders like Jacinda Ardern. 

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