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article imageNZealand PM makes UN history with first baby

By Catherine TRIOMPHE (AFP)     Sep 25, 2018 in World

New Zealand's prime minister has been proclaimed a history maker for taking "first baby" -- daughter Neve -- into the United Nations General Assembly hall, shaking up what is still a boys' club of world leaders.

Photographs of Jacinda Ardern, 38, kissing and bouncing her three-month-old in the main hall at the Nelson Mandela Peace Summit on the eve of the General Assembly have gone around the world and taken the internet by storm.

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

"It's altogether a good thing and we were delighted to have Neve in the General Assembly hall. With only five percent 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 care giver, watching Ardern at work has attracted plenty of positive commentary in a United States, where many worry 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 United Nations turned Harvard professor Samantha Power, herself a mother of two.

New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern  left  has made history by bringing her baby to the United...
New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern, left, has made history by bringing her baby to the United Nations General Assembly, here held by her partner Clarke Gayford

Ardern, currently the youngest woman leader in the world, is only the second female prime minister to give birth while serving in office, after Pakistan's Benazir Bhutto in 1990. She says she wants to blaze a trail for other women.

"I want to normalize it," Ardern told CNN.

"If we want to make work places more open, we need to acknowledge logistical challenges... by being more open it might create a path for other women."

She's also the first to admit she's not a typical working mother.

- Media darling -

Pregnancy  motherhood and governing have turned Ardern into a poster child for feminism against the ...
Pregnancy, motherhood and governing have turned Ardern into a poster child for feminism against the backdrop of the #MeToo movement in the United States

"What I consistently acknowledge is that I have assistants who help Clarke with the ability to juggle his career and be our primary caregiver," she was quoted as saying by CNN.

Her television presenting partner has also been feted on American social media, fueling the love by tweeting a photograph of his daughter's UN ID designating her "New Zealand First Baby."

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

Pregnancy, motherhood and governing have turned her into a poster child for feminism against the backdrop of the #MeToo movement in the United States.

Her first UN General Assembly outing has turned her into something of a media darling, conducting a whirlwind of television interviews, with a slot on "The Late Show with Stephen Colbert" still to come Wednesday.

Through it all, she has chosen to champion the modernity of a country of fewer than five million residents, already on its third female premier.

"I never grew up believing my gender would stand in the way of doing anything I wanted," she said.

"I credit the women who came before me and credit New Zealanders for welcoming me having a child... I'm proud of the nation."

Its a popularity she's no doubt enjoying. In power just under a year, she has been troubled by political difficulties at home in recent weeks following the resignation of two cabinet ministers.

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