“Women can’t be president,” they said; “women are too emotional to govern,” they said. Jacinda Ardern has a very different story to tell to the skeptics and fanatics of the patriarchal system.
New Zealand’s Prime Minister has been re-elected to a second term after being hailed worldwide for her swift and effective handling of the COVID-19 pandemic and giving her Labor Party the biggest election victory in 50 years.
Although Ardern, 40, became popular worldwide since becoming New Zealand’s first woman Prime Minister in 2017, for her strong stance in favor of LGBTQ+ rights and her promise to end child hunger.
Growing up in rural villages and in a Mormon home, Ardern soon left the church because of its anti-gay views and joined the Labour Party at an early age. Once elected as Labour’s deputy leader, few believed she would have a chance to win the presidential election.
By achieving parliamentary representation with 46 seats, albeit in a close election, Ardern became one of the world’s youngest leaders and at a critical time for democracy, feminism, and diplomatic progressivism.
Her performance as a leader was radically counterbalanced by a political world in turmoil and dominated by the headlines around then-new U.S. President Donald Trump.
While the U.S. president surrounded himself with scandals of misogyny, racism, and abuse of power, Ardern became a feminist icon by breastfeeding her daughter Neve Te Aroha at a United Nations General Assembly in September 2018.
While the U.S. president imposed a migration ban on travelers from Muslim-majority countries, Ardern responded with empathy to a terrorist attack on the Christchurch mosque that left 51 people dead. She pushed for a radical change in gun laws and helped families deal with grief.
Finally, while President Trump belied the seriousness of the COVID-19 pandemic, withheld information, and refused to take up the challenge, Arden acted immediately, brought the country together under her slogan “be strong, be kind,” and put in place a protocol for case tracking, border closures, and a general lockdown.
Although New Zealand’s economy took an initial hit, this allowed the country to return to normalcy, control the number of cases, and become the first nation in the world to be “COVID-free.
To this date, New Zealand has reported fewer than 2,000 cases and 25 deaths due to the new coronavirus since the start of the pandemic.
Now, with massive support from the electorate, Ardern’s party is on track to win 64 of the country’s 120 seats in parliament, Reuters said. This would mean that the Labor Party will have decisive control of the government without forming a coalition.
“We will build back better from the Covid crisis,” Ardern said in her acceptance speech on Saturday, evoking a slogan also used by former US Vice President Joe Biden’s presidential campaign. “This is our opportunity.”