Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern has defended New Zealand against claims that the nation is sexist during a CNN interview that took place overnight in New York.
CNN’s Christiane Amanpour said she was amazed by “some of the incredible sexism” that Ms Ardern had received from the country’s media, saying it was particularly "extraordinary" given that NZ was the first county to give women the vote.
That series of questions prompted the Prime Minister to offer a passionate defence of New Zealand’s record with equality.
“I would absolutely classify as being incredibly progressive the fact that I am the third female Prime Minister, she said. “I never ever grew up as a young woman believing that my gender would stand in the way of doing anything I wanted.
“I credit New Zealand for that. I credit the environment. I credit those women who went before me and credit New Zealanders as well -the fact that they did welcome the fact that I had a child in office. The positivity far outweighed the negativity.
“I’m deeply proud of where we are as a nation.”
While she encouraged criticism and challenging questions as part of a “robust democracy”, Ms Ardern did say she found it tricky dealing with criticism that could be construed as sexist.
“We (politicians) should be open to criticism, we should be open to be challenged,” she said.
“It becomes tricky if you ever try to partition off what might be seen as sexist criticism. To be honest, I just don’t engage. The best way I can rebel against those notions is being competent, good at my job.”
The Prime Minister also explained during the interview that she wasn’t aware that baby Neve was on the floor of the UN General Assembly, but she hoped that she could normalise having children in the workplace.
“To find that she (Neve) was there on the general assembly floor, and there’s actually an image that captures the moment when I see her there and…it was just delightful to see her there,” she said.
“I think what it speaks to is that I am still breastfeeding, I have Neve near me most of the time. It’s not always obvious that she’s in close proximity to me most of the time.
“I want to normalise it. There are logistical challenges.”