Back
Register for SMS Alerts
or enter your details manually below...
First Name:
Last Name:
Email:
Password:
Hometown:
Birthday:
Sorry, we couldn't find that email.
Existing users
Email
Password
Sorry, we couldn't find those details.
Enter Email
Sorry, we couldn't find that email.

Baby plans, not policy, first hurdle for NZ Labour’s new female leader

Jacinda Arden spent the first few days on the job dodging questions on family planning
 

2 August 2017, 9:19am
Jacinda Arden took over the post after Andrew Little stepped down in Wellington, New Zealand. (Photo: Charlotte Greenfield for Reuters)
Jacinda Arden took over the post after Andrew Little stepped down in Wellington, New Zealand. (Photo: Charlotte Greenfield for Reuters)
New Zealand’s charismatic new Labour leadear, who took over seven weeks out from an election, spent the first 24 hours on the job fielding questions about babies rather than policy plans.

Jacinda Ardern, 37, took over as Labour’s youngest leader on Tuesday after her predecessor quit over “disturbing” opinion poll results, leaving little time to plot a strategy to break the center-right National Party’s decade-long hold on power.

One of the first questions Ardern faced Tuesday night was about whether she had made a choice between having children or a career.  She answered that she had spoken before about the dilemma many women are asked about.

The question, however, refused to go away, and Ardern clashed on Wednesday with a radio host who said New Zealanders needed to know whether she planned to have children, the same way that “companies would need to know if they were employing a female worker”.

Pointing her finger at AM show panellist Richardson, Ardern said “it is totally unacceptable in 2017 to say that women should have to answer that question in the workplace”.

“It is a woman’s decision about when they choose to have children. It should not pre-determine whether or not they are given a job or have job opportunities,” she said.

The controversy was at odds with New Zealand’s progressive reputation, having been the first country to give women the right to vote in 1893.

“I don’t think we could say New Zealand is still ahead of the curve when such a small percentage of our politicians are women, both at parliament and at local government level,” said Julie Anne Genter, a member of parliament for the Green Party.

However Genter took issue with the tone of Ardern’s answers: “They’re just saying: ‘how can you do this job if you plan to have a family?,” she said.

With Labour facing a crushing defeat at the September 23 election, Ardern took over in the hope she could breathe new life into the party.