The 40-year old New Zealand PM is considered by many to be “the most effective leader on the planet”. The latest opinion poll also suggests a soaring popularity for Ardern who could easily win the next September election. We made a list of 10 things that show why she’s so great. By Marta Portocarrero.
1. She’s authentic
Authenticity has been Jacinda’s leadership most praised trait. An authentic leader is someone who stands by moral values, while also acknowledging their weaknesses and striving to understand the impact of their leadership on others.
In times of COVID, Jacinda’s authenticity has been pointed out as one of the factors for why the country has responded so well to the crisis. She said she’s had a “privileged opportunity to be leading at this time”.
2. She believes in kindness
Kindness is at the heart of Jacinda’s leadership style: “I think one of the sad things that I’ve seen in political leadership is – because we’ve placed over time so much emphasis on notions of assertiveness and strength – that we probably have assumed that it means you can’t have those other qualities of kindness and empathy. And yet, when you think about all the big challenges that we face in the world, that’s probably the quality we need the most.”
3. She shows her emotions
At the start of June, New Zealand declared it had no more active cases of coronavirus. And how did Jacinda mark the occasion? She did a little celebratory dance!💃
4. She understands people’s struggles
She’s taken a 20% wage cut in solidarity with those struggling during the pandemic and who were forced to accept a reduced salary.
5. She acts quickly
After the Christchurch mosque shootings that killed more than 50 people in 2019, Jacinda – who is agnostic – hugged the victims and said “they are us”. She then immediately implemented tighter gun laws across the country:
“New Zealand has been chosen because it was safe, because it was no place for hatred or racism. Because we represent diversity, kindness, compassion, home for those who share our values. Refuge for those who need it.”
6. She knows what being a working mum means
After Benazir Bhutto, Jacinda became the second head of government to give birth while in office. Her child was born in 2018 and she introduced her to the world in a UN conference, sending a strong message that women can multitask.
In 2017, during a interview, she shut down a TV host who asked her whether a woman still has to choose between having a family or pursuing a successful career by saying: “(That is) totally unacceptable in 2017 to say that women should have to answer that question in the workplace.”
7. She’s passionate about climate change
Jacinda has a strong desire to help save the planet. In 2018, motivated by thousands of children’s letters, she set out her plan to ban single-use plastic bags throughout the country, with retailers facing fines of $65,000 (£33,000) if they failed to do so.
8. She listens to what children have to say
From telling children that the Easter Bunny was considered an “essential worker” and would therefore still visit their homes despite the lockdown to reading the letters children sent her, Jacinda keeps the little ones close to her heart.
In fact, before becoming PM she worked for an international youth organisation, visiting refugee and displaced children and has set targets to cut child poverty in New Zealand in half over the next 10 years. When listening to children’s problems she said they stated things like spending more time with their parents and needing more skateparks in the country. “They looked beyond themselves. And that’s what we should do as leaders, and as a government, too.”
9. She’s improving women’s rights♀️
Achieving gender equality is at the top of Jacinda’s agenda. Herself is only the third female prime minister of New Zealand, the second youngest, and the youngest female prime minister, so she’s used to the obstacles of navigating predominantly male environments.
She recently announced that sanitary products will be free for young women in schools across the country from 2021, in a bid to help eradicate period poverty.
10. She’s digital savvy
Facebook lives, Twitter, Instagram… Jacinda knows it all. She frequently talks to her nation on social media where she adopts an informal, yet informative tone. On one occasion, just before lockdown, she took to Facebook in a video in a well-worn jumper to offer guidance “as we all prepare to hunker down.” She explained to people how important it was to avoid spreading the virus by breaking their social bubbles.
Jacinda Ardern’s best quotes:
“To me, leadership is not about necessarily being the loudest in the room, but instead being the bridge, or the thing that is missing in the discussion and trying to build a consensus from there.”
On the role of politicians:
“We need to make sure we are looking at people’s ability to actually have a meaningful life, an enjoyable life, where their work is enough to survive and support their families.”
“The worst case scenario is simply intolerable. It would represent the greatest loss of New Zealanders’ lives in our country’s history. I will not take that chance. The government will do all it can to protect you. None of us can do this alone.”
Are you a fan of Jacinda Ardern? What is the most remarkable moment of her leadership you can remember?