In continuation with our series, I’d like to shed light on an aspiring political leader in New Zealand. She is the youngest world leader in the world, and the young Prime Minister in New Zealand in over 150 years. She is inspiring in a number of ways, and I intend to share what I respect about her, without delving too much into every political affiliation.
Jacinda has a strong moral compass, and advocates for an empathetic government. She was a practicing Mormon growing up. She ultimately left the faith because of its opposition to same sex marriage.
She isn’t afraid to take blunt stances. To others, she may seem rash and utilitarian, but she has a respectful reaction and response when tragedy occurs in her home. The people of New Zealand appreciate her empathic and political tactics, too. She was just reelected for a second term in October 2020 in a landslide victory.
After the Christchurch shooting in March 2019, Jacinda embraced the families of the victims, and expressed such deep empathy. She immediately enacted a mandatory gun amnesty and buyback policy for semi-automatic weapons. It allowed gun owners to surrender their firearms by a certain date without any question or legal discourse. Jacinda also visited the shooting site, adorning a hijab out of respect, and hugged the mourners she encountered. Wow.
Her response was unlike what so many have experienced from political leadership following a terrorist attack. Unfortunately, we have become desensitized to these acts of terrorism, especially against non-white, Christian folk. Some may argue that her response was dramatized, rash, overly sensitive, unrealistic and weak. I beg to differ. Gun reform is always a dicey debate. I find that politicians are too fearful of public outcry to enforce considerable amendments, regardless as to who the victims are. There is racism and prejudice everywhere in the world between groups of differing races, ethnicities, economic backgrounds and religions. As an American, I recognize just how stigmatized being an Arab and a Muslim can be. The severity of the crime is often overlooked when the victims are of a minority faith. Jacinda disregarded how her response would be received by conservative bigots. She assured us that her moral compass has always been aligned, and publicly admitted for the her country and the world to hear; an act of terrorism was conducted on a mosque. In regards to have a lot of work to do.
Her response to COVID-19 alone was remarkable. She swiftly called for a major lockdown of the entire country, choosing to believe science during a pandemic (Revolutionary, I know). She has hosted a modern day version of America’s fireside chats; Facebook Live. Jacinda gets candid with her viewers, often sporting a casual pullover or sweatshirt, just chatting and clarifying any confusion about COVID-19 and all safety lockdowns and procedures, for viewers. Recently, she confessed that the NZ borders would most likely be closed the majority of the year until her citizens are vaccinated and protected.
As women continue to shatter glass ceilings around the world, the male-dominated societies we are looking to improve remain stuck in neutral. Hours after her election into office as PM, she was asked by a good handful of interviewers about her plans to have children. Some even declared that if she claims to have “the country’s best interest in mind”, it’s their right to know. Jacinda has admitted that because she placed herself on such a public platform, she is comfortable disclosing her plans to start a family during her term however, she refuted the idea that employers should feel it necessary to ask a woman about her plans to start a family when hiring. YES. YES. YES. When women hold position of power, they highlight the double standard. As you diversify your workplace, other double standards are exposed. This is crucial step when working towards a more inclusive society.
She is a mother first, bursting cumbersome barriers working mothers feel compelled to uphold. Just three months after giving birth, Jacinda brought her baby on the floor of the United Nations General Assembly. What a universally renowned platform to highlight just how important flexible work environments should be, not just for working mothers, but working parents. As Jacinda herself stresses, “If we want to make workplaces more open, we need to acknowledge logistical challenges… by being more open it might create a path for other women.”
Jacinda Ardern is the boss energy we need in the world. I am inspired by her influence and confidence. While she isn’t perfect (no one is), she represents a shade of hope for women in positions of power. She had demonstrated what an intelligent, empathetic woman in power can look like. She has set an example of what women can do in global affairs. I’d say, she is one of the better politicians out there. Thanks to Jacinda and the many women who paved the way before her, young women across the globe can be assured that women can hold one of the most powerful positions in a country and succeed.