WORK-LIFE BALANCE

Jacinda Ardern just became the first world leader to give birth in office in almost 30 years

Jacinda Ardern, New Zealand’s prime minister, gave birth to a girl today (June 21), joining a tiny club of two for world leaders who gave birth while in power.

Ardern announced the birth on Facebook. She was due to give birth on June 17, but her partner Clarke Gayford posted a photo yesterday showing her still working:

The prime minister said she would take six weeks off before returning to work. Her partner will stay at home to take care of their baby.

No sitting leader has given birth while in office for almost three decades. The last person who did so was the late Pakistani prime minister Benazir Bhutto, who gave birth to her daughter Bakhtawar in 1990 when she was in office. She also gave birth to her son Bilawal while she was campaigning in 1988. She told the BBC that her decision to campaign while pregnant was a response to former president and military general Zia ul-Haq’s assumption that she could not take part in politics as a pregnant woman. She also kept her next pregnancy a secret—and was promptly criticized by some in Pakistan after giving birth that as a new mother she would not be able to devote herself fully to the task of running a country.

In New Zealand, Ardern’s pregnancy is largely seen as a mark of progressiveness that’s still rare among developed nations. Former prime minister Helen Clark, for example, lauded Ardern and her partner’s parenting arrangement as an example of gender equality.

Correction: A previous version of this story misidentified Jacinda Ardern’s partner, Clarke Gayford, as her husband.

home our picks popular latest obsessions search