Ardern heads new empathy and kindess program for political leaders

Jacinda Ardern heads new empathy and kindess program for global political leaders

Jacinda Ardern

Dame Jacinda Ardern has announced a new initiative for global political leaders on leading with kindness and empathy, with the 12-month program designed to “rehumanise leadership” in politics.

The former Prime Minister of New Zealand released a statement on Instagram, describing the program, named Field, as an initiative for leaders hoping to “challenge and change” the status quo of politics. 

The program will seek to “support and connect global political leaders who embody political leadership that draws on the strength of kindness and empathy,” her post read. 

“Field is hosted by Global Progress, and will create a network of like minded political leaders who use pragmatic idealism, speak to people with hope and optimism rather than fear or blame, and want to unite, rather than divide as we look to solve the challenges ahead.” 

“Field is an incredibly humbling, and exciting project to be leading. All part of my ongoing mission to help rehumanise leadership, and just be useful! More updates to come. Needless to say, I haven’t quite managed that cup of tea and a lie down just yet.”

The program’s first cohort, who meet next month, will consist of fifteen leaders based in Europe — though “this will broaden over time,” according to Ardern. 

Run by the Global Progress Action, an initiative of the Washington DC-based  Center for American Progress Action Fund, the program hopes to connect leaders who have embraced leadership that focuses on “pragmatic idealism” and who drew on the “strength of kindness and empathy to develop and build public support for progressive policy solutions to complex problems”.

In a statement released by the organisation, its CEO Patrick Gaspard called Ardern “the embodiment of the leadership style the programme will instil in those who participate.” 

“It’s only right that our inaugural fellowship […] is expected to include women in leadership roles from different European countries,” he said. “It will help shape the ideas that will steer Europe toward a more hopeful, unifying, and optimistic future.”

“The rise of authoritarianism and the growing influence of the far right in Europe shows the urgency of this program,” he continued. 

“This moment demands more bold and principled leaders who are not afraid to stand firm in their values and who will refocus politics where it belongs—on caring for people. The first-of-its-kind program will bring together leaders from different countries to challenge and change the status quo of global politics. Participants will have the opportunity to explore practical solutions in the context of some vast challenges facing global communities, like the climate crisis and rising inequality.” 

“It will help shape the ideas that will steer Europe toward a more hopeful, unifying, and optimistic future.”

Senior fellow and director of Global Progress Action, Johan Hassel added that “creating a fellowship for leaders to support, learn, and grow together can help restore faith in progressive solutions as a force for good and better combat the shadow of far-right extremism.” 

Last November, Ardern appeared as a visiting fellow at Harvard Kennedy School, where she said “only way to find long-term peaceful resolution to difficult and complex conflicts is if you find a way to end the violence and grief in order to give yourself the space to then have those conversations”. 

“Many people are cynical about politics, and I can see why,” she added. “I was in politics for 15 years and I came out with a strong belief that politics is a place for positive change.” 

In May this year, Prime Minister Christopher Luxon and French President Emmanuel Macron announced Ardern would continue to contribute as a Patron of the Call to the Christchurch Call Foundation, which was created to reduce the kind of harmful content that led to the 2019 mosque shootings in Christchurch which left 51 people dead. 

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