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Girls & Women

Jacinda Ardern and New Zealand's 'First Baby' Just Made History at the UN


Why Global Citizens Should Care
Jacinda Ardern has been a powerful advocate for women’s rights and working mothers, who often face discrimination around the world. Women are frequently are penalized when they take time off to start a family and women living on low-incomes are particularly affected by this due to a lack of accommodations for working mothers and the cost of childcare. You can take action here to help eliminate gender discrimination.

New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern has been in office less than a year, but she has already made history several times over.

Ardern became the world’s youngest female head of state when she was elected last year and became the second elected leader to give birth while in office — the first was Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto of Pakistan in 1990 — when she welcomed her daughter in June. She then became the first world leader to go on maternity leave.

On Monday, Ardern added another first to that list. She not only made her debut speech at the United Nations General Assembly, but brought her infant daughter, Neve Te Aroha, to do so, making her the first female head of state to bring a newborn to the high-level annual summit.

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The prime minister honored the legacy of Nelson Mandela in her speech, which her three-month-old daughter enjoyed from her father’s lap in the front row.

“Let us remember Mandela and the values he devoted his life towards on his long walk to freedom. But let us not forget that there is still work to do,” Ardern said. “We must ensure that the just, peaceful, prosperous, democratic, fair, and inclusive world which Mandela strived for is fully realized.”

Ardern said she’s not sure whether or not Neve — the “first baby” of New Zealand, as her UN ID badge reads — will attend more of the week’s events.

“There is no set plan, it’s just whether or not she’s getting enough sleep, where I am for feeds. They might be with us a lot, they might just be in the hotel,” Ardern said, according to the Guardian.

The prime minister, who is still breastfeeding, acknowledged that in being able to bring her baby to work she enjoys a privilege that not all working mothers do, and hope that this will not be the case for long.

Read More: Jacinda Ardern Wants to Make New Zealand the 'Best Place in the World to Be a Child'

“I have the ability to take my child to work, there’s not many places you can do that. I am not the gold standard for bringing up a child in this current environment because there are things about my circumstances that are not the same,” she said. “If I can do one thing, and that is change the way we think about these things, then I will be pleased we have achieved something.”