There are women who break glass ceilings, and then there are those who break through and completely overhaul and transform our assumptions about what women can achieve in leadership and when.
New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern already did the latter when she announced she was pregnant with her first child earlier this year.
And she gave birth to that baby girl yesterday, announcing the arrival with her partner Clarke Gayford and the words, ‘welcome to the village wee one’.
Meanwhile Gayford, in committing to be a stay at home father after Ardern finishes up her six weeks parental leave, is also shattering assumptions and offering a much-needed high-profile reminder that men can take on this role.
Of course he’s not the first father to do this, but he’s still one of very few who do, especially in such a high profile way.
These are examples that will help other couples planning a family start new conversations about how they’ll manage, and they are examples that send powerful message to both girls and boys regarding the sorts of roles and responsibilities they can take on in the future.
Ardern did what women do all over the world while pregnant: get on with their work, whether that’s paid or unpaid, in the home or elsewhere. But she’s done it while in a highly visible leadership position, reminding girls and women everywhere that it’s possible to pursue and continue our ambitions while having a family.
All this while facing a barrage of sexist comments, inappropriate questions about the timing of the baby’s conception and continued media scrutiny. She’s legislated and negotiated with world leaders while pregnant, debated and fought off attacks in parliament, and delivered a powerful, meaningful budget. Amazingly, baby brain didn’t halt her progress or success in the role, possibly because it doesn’t exist.
She’s now the second world leader to give birth while in office, behind Pakistan’s Benazir Bhutto.
As Ardern goes on to take maternity leave, life in New Zealand appears set to carry on as normal, in many ways continuing to be the envy of the world.
New Zealand must be so very, very proud of the wee one that’s entered its village.