Jacinda Ardern on her groundbreaking first few months as PM

It's been an exciting few months in New Zealand politics, with the PM and expectant mum planning to keep the momentum up.
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To call Jacinda Ardern’s last year a whirlwind would be to do it a disservice – at this stage, it’s looking historic. Even though the results of the election were controversial to a lot of people, it’s hard to deny that goodwill towards the 37-year-old has never been higher than now, following her surprise pregnancy announcement mid-January.

Stories like this just don’t come along very often. She is only the third woman to ever become Prime Minister in New Zealand. She is one of the youngest heads of state. And, as of June this year, she’ll be one of only two world leaders to give birth while in office… ever.

In a global information cycle still reeling from more than a year’s worth of bad political headlines, Ardern emerged as that rare thing: a good news story involving a woman. She got her boss’s job, then her boss’s boss’s job, all without putting her hand up – and much of it while battling morning sickness.

At the tail end of Labour’s ambitious first 100 days in office, The Australian Women’s Weekly was lucky enough to sit down with Jacinda in her Auckland home and have a candid conversation about the road it took to get there, and the ground-breaking path she has ahead.

While the prime minister has been quick to state that she’s “not the first woman to multi task” when it comes to having her first child and running the country, she is aware that as one of the few women to hold the position, she needs to make it easier for those who follow in her footsteps. She quotes Marilyn Waring, former MP and another one of Jacinda’s heroines, who once spoke about being ‘the first’.

“She said ‘There are two types of people: we can either be women who fight so hard to get into place that once we get through, we jam our foot in the door to pull through more people, or those who fight so hard to get there that once they get there they pull the door shut behind them.’ I think it’s a matter of us all ramming our foot in the door.”

There’s another politician that has shaped Ardern’s career path: previous Labour Prime Minister Helen Clark.

“She left a legacy. She made changes that lasted. Under her we had Kiwibank, interest-free student loans, Working for Families,” Ardern says.

“If you manage to leave things behind that don’t get changed once you’re gone, that’s a big test. We will be different leaders, and we will both be products of our time. Helen was exactly what we needed then and I’ll try and be what we need now.”

Ardern reveals in her exclusive interview with The Australian Women’s Weekly why she’s grateful for her rural upbringing and how it shaped both her personality and her policies, as well why she wants politics to be a place women feel they can and should get into.

Read the full story with Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern in the latest issue of The Australian Women’s Weekly, out now.

At home with Jacinda

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