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Girls & Women

New Zealand PM Jacinda Ardern Returns From Maternity Leave Ready to Roar


Why Global Citizens Should Care
Women around the world are not given the proper support after childbirth, including appropriate amounts of maternity leave. As a result, the health of newborns and mothers are often left at risk. You can join us by taking action here to support maternal and child health everywhere.

Call it another win for women’s maternal rights.

New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern, the first world leader ever to go on maternity leave while in office, returned to work this week with an aggressive agenda, reported Time.

Take Action: End Preventable Deaths of over 5 Million Women, Children and Adolescents Every Year

Ardern had taken six weeks at home with her daughter, Neve Gayford, following her birth on June 21. Deputy Winston Peters took on most of Ardern’s duties during the leave, but the prime minister acknowledged in a video posted to social media that she had continued to read cabinet papers from home as well as consult on any major issues, noted Time.

The main difference, she said, was that now Ardern reads while rocking her daughter gently in her bassinet, reported the Guardian.

“I’m multitasking like every single parent I’ve ever met, so a big shout-out to all of them,” said Ardern in the Facebook Live video.

This was not the first time Ardern has reminded New Zealanders how common balancing work and motherhood is.

“I’m not the first woman to work and have a baby,” Ardern has said in response to past sexist critics.

Read More: New Zealand PM Jacinda Ardern Is the First World Leader to Go on Maternity Leave

Her agenda for her first week back will focus on mental health, the environment, and trade issues.

Ardern also has said she would like to work with business leaders, noted CBS News. She has been attempting to rescue the Trans-Pacific Partnership trade agreement, with the New Zealand government actively pushing an aggressive trade agenda.

Read More: The Special Meaning of New Zealand PM Jacinda Ardern's Coat

Pakistan’s Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto became the first government leader to have a child in office in 1990. But in contrast to Ardern, who announced she was pregnant five months before delivering, Bhutto told almost no one until her daughter was born. The Pakistani prime minister underwent a cesarean section and immediately returned to work, according to CBS News.