Thursday, January 19, 2023

Jacinda Ardern of New Zealand leaves a legacy of generosity and disappointments

New Zealand's Jacinda Ardern leaves legacy of kindness, disappointments

 Even though she struggled domestically with the economy and COVID-19 restrictions, Jacinda Ardern has transformed her tiny New Zealand into a global icon for left-leaning politics and women in leadership.

The 41-year-old, who gained attention for bringing her baby to a meeting of the United Nations and for wearing a hijab after a massacre that targeted Muslims, made a similarly dramatic announcement on Thursday that she would resign in less than three weeks, stating that she had "no more in the tank."

Throughout her turbulent tenure, New Zealand's youngest prime minister in more than a century recited, "Be strong, be kind." However, her compassionate leadership and crisis management abilities frequently concealed her government's shortcomings.

Ardern, who is regarded as personable and engaging, turned speaking from the heart and smiling despite adversity into a winning formula for ascending to power in 2017 and returning with a stunning victory in 2020, ushering in New Zealand's first government that is solely left-leaning in decades.

Unprecedented occurrences occurred under her leadership for the 5 million-person island nation: the white supremacist's murder of 51 Muslim worshippers in Christchurch in 2019, the White Island volcano's eruption, and the pandemic the following year

In an emotional announcement of her resignation, Ardern stated, "I hope I leave New Zealanders with a belief that you can be kind but strong, empathetic but decisive, optimistic but focused." that you can be your own kind of leader who knows when to leave."

Problems Mount, Ratings Fall Ardern's response to the Christchurch attacks, which she characterized as terrorism, received widespread praise. She met the Muslim community and told them that New Zealand was "united in grief" while wearing a headscarf.

In stark contrast to the United States, where lawmakers and activists have struggled to address gun violence despite regular mass shootings, she implemented a ban on semiautomatic firearms and other gun restrictions within weeks of the massacre.

She has frequently been the target of right-wing extremists online as she has launched a global campaign to end hate speech online.

In 2020, Ardern made headlines around the world by leading New Zealand's most diverse parliament, which had the highest proportion of indigenous Maori lawmakers and more than half of its members who were women.

Covid was one of the first leaders to close borders and implement a zero-tolerance policy when she took office. This kept New Zealanders safe from the virus and kept death rates much lower than in other advanced nations.

However, her "go hard, go early" strategy, which included a nationwide lockdown for a single infection, was not well received by all.

While Ardern's popularity grew internationally, she has struggled to demonstrate that her leadership went beyond crisis management and kindness at home.

On account of the worsening housing crisis, rising costs of living and mortgage rates, and growing concerns about crime, her ratings have decreased in recent months. She still enjoys a greater following than her rivals.

Ardern's affordable housing programs have fallen behind despite her promises of transformative leadership. Even with regard to climate change, which Ardern referred to as "my generation's nuclear-free moment," there has been incremental progress.

In 2017, when she became the youngest female head of government in the world at the age of 37, REFRESHING Ardern exploded onto the global stage.

She passionately advocated for women's rights, ending child poverty, and reducing economic inequality in the country, riding a wave of "Jacinda-mania."

Ardern left the Mormon church in the early 2000s over its stance on LGBTQ people and has since described herself as agnostic. Her mother was a police officer and her father was a Mormon.

She was asked if she planned to have children just hours after she was named leader of the Labour Party. "Totally unacceptable in 2017 to say that women should have to answer that question in the workplace," according to Ardern.

She gave birth to a daughter eight months after becoming premier, becoming only the second elected leader after Benazir Bhutto of Pakistan to do so while in office. Ardern brought the child, Neve Te Aroha, to the United Nations General Assembly in New York less than three months later.

As part of a wave of progressive female leaders, including Finnish Prime Minister Sanna Marin, many saw her pregnancy and the prime minister's maternity leave as signs of progress for women leaders.

Meeting with Marin in Wellington in November, Ardern took shots back at an inquiry whether the two were meeting simply because of they were youthful and female.

Ardern said, referring to the former U.S. president and New Zealand prime minister, "I wonder whether or not anyone ever asked Barack Obama and John Key if they met because they were of similar age." It's not just due to their gender that two women meet."

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