WELLINGTON: Telling your boss you’re pregnant can be harrowing at the best of times. Imagine doing it when you have more than 4 million bosses.
That’s what New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern did on Friday by announcing she and her partner Clarke Gayford were expecting their first child.
She will take six weeks maternity leave — far less than the 22 weeks of paid parental leave that New Zealanders are entitled to.
Gayford will be a stay-at-home dad when she returns to the business of running the Pacific island nation.
Only a few elected leaders have been pregnant while in office. Benazir Bhutto gave birth while she was Pakistan’s prime minister in 1990.
The news that the 37-year-old would be “a prime minister AND a mom” prompted an outpouring of support.
“It’s really inspiring … having our prime minister lead by example is a great sign of how far we’ve come in women’s industrial rights in New Zealand,” Council of Trade Unions President Richard Wagstaff said.
Former prime minister Helen Clark wished the couple “all the best” ahead of the expected birth in June. “Every woman should have the choice of combining family and career.”
Clark wasn’t the only one to indicate that Ardern’s decision had implications for regular woman.
New Zealand National Council of Women CEO Gill Greer told NBC News that her organization would “like to see every woman in New Zealand having the choice to have a family and a career — or both, or neither — without prejudice or judgement. We wish them all the very best for the future.”
Fellow mother, politician and Labour Party member Kiri Allan called it “the best news ever.”