United Nations meetings

NZ Premier makes history by taking baby to UN meet

New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern with her baby daughter Neve (in the arms of her partner and television show host Clarke Gayford) after speaking at the Nelson Mandela Peace Summit at the UN on Monday.
New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern with her baby daughter Neve (in the arms of her partner and television show host Clarke Gayford) after speaking at the Nelson Mandela Peace Summit at the UN on Monday.PHOTO: REUTERS

UNITED NATIONS • New Zealand's Prime Minister has made history by taking her three-month-old daughter to the United Nations assembly hall, shaking up what is still a boys' club of world leaders.

Ms Jacinda Ardern, 38, was photographed kissing and bouncing her daughter Neve while sitting next to partner Clarke Gayford at a plenary meeting known as the Nelson Mandela Peace Summit, which she also addressed.

UN spokesman Stephane Dujarric confirmed on Tuesday that it had been the first time in the organisation's 73-year history that a woman leader had taken her newborn into the assembly room.

"It is altogether a good thing, and we were delighted to have Neve in the General Assembly hall. With only 5 per cent of world leaders women, we should do everything to make them feel as welcome as possible," he added.

The sight of Neve and her father, who is her chief caregiver, watching Ms Ardern at work has attracted a lot of positive commentary in the United States, where many worry that the Trump administration imperils women's rights.

"I cannot stress how much the @UN - and the governments that comprise it - need this," tweeted former US ambassador to the UN and Harvard professor Samantha Power, herself a mother of two.

Ms Ardern, currently the youngest woman leader in the world, is only the second prime minister to give birth while serving in office, after the late Pakistani leader Benazir Bhutto in 1990.

BLAZING A TRAIL FOR WOMEN

I want to normalise it... If we want to make workplaces more open, we need to acknowledge logistical challenges... By being more open, it might create a path for other women.

MS JACINDA ARDERN

Ms Ardern said she wants to blaze a trail for other women.

"I want to normalise it," she told CNN. "If we want to make workplaces more open, we need to acknowledge logistical challenges... By being more open, it might create a path for other women."

Mr Gayford, 40, who hosts a fishing show on television, tweeted a picture of the infant's UN diplomatic photo ID that listed her as "New Zealand first baby".

 

"I wish I could have captured the startled look of a Japanese delegation inside the UN yesterday who walked into a meeting room in the middle of a nappy change. Great yarn for her 21st," he wrote.

AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on September 27, 2018, with the headline 'NZ Premier makes history by taking baby to UN meet'. Print Edition | Subscribe