JACINDA ARDERN
Politician
1980

The youngest female head of state in the world and trailblazer for working mums

Jacinda Ardern, our current Prime Minister, blazed a trail all the way to the Beehive and continues to smash the glass ceiling for women in politics.

In January this year, Ardern made history when she announced she was pregnant with her first child. When Neve Te Aroha Ardern Gayford was born in June, Ardern became just the second world leader in history to give birth while in office.

Brushing aside patriarchal ideas of motherhood and work, Ardern took just six weeks of maternity leave and hit the ground running when she returned to her role in August.

Ardern had already made history during last year's election when, at 37, she became the youngest female head of state in the world and New Zealand's youngest leader since 1856.

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In February, she became the first New Zealand PM to march in a Pride Parade.

The Morrinsville-raised daughter of a police officer and a school canteen worker, Ardern's interest in politics began from a young age.

After gaining a Bachelor in Communications Studies from the University of Waikato, she joined the Labour Party and worked in the offices of Phil Goff and Helen Clark as a researcher. She later worked in London in the policy unit of then-British PM, Tony Blair.

Ahead of the 2008 election, Ardern returned to New Zealand to campaign full-time; she was ranked 20th on Labour's list at the age of 28. She entered Parliament that election, becoming the youngest sitting MP at the time.

By 2014, Ardern had climbed to number five on Labour's list and had become a well-known figure in politics, due to her passionate advocacy for causes such as reducing child poverty and supporting the arts in New Zealand.

When she became Labour leader just seven weeks before the 2017 general election, it was no wonder that "Jacindamania" set in. Ardern's fearless spirit and passionate drive is an inspiration to women around the world and has broken boundaries for women in politics.