Asia Minute: New Zealand’s Prime Minister Expecting in June

Jan 19, 2018

Jacinda Ardern before her swearing in.
Credit Governor-General of New Zealand / Wikimedia Commons

New Zealand’s Prime Minister had a surprise announcement for her electorate earlier today: she’s pregnant. It’s an unusual situation for a prime minister, but it’s not unprecedented. HPR’s Bill Dorman has more in today’s Asia Minute.

Jacinda Ardern says she’s known she was expecting since October 13th – just about two weeks before she became Prime Minister of New Zealand.

She called the development a “happy surprise” adding that she is not the first woman to “work and have a baby.” Ardern also said that anyone who was worried about whether her pregnancy will interfere with her job should understand that that no one realized she was suffering from “pretty bad” morning sickness at the very time she was putting together a coalition government.

One of the leaders of her coalition partner the Green Party said “that a woman can be the Prime Minister of New Zealand and choose to have a family while in office says a lot about the kind of country we are and that we can be—modern, progressive, inclusive and equal.”

The baby is expected in June, and plans are for the deputy prime minister to take over for six weeks.

Ardern’s partner plans to be a stay at home dad.

It’s an unusual case.

Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto of Pakistan had her second child in 1990, and media accounts at the time said she was the first head of government in modern history to give birth while in office.

Annette King, a former top Labor Party official herself, said Ardern’s pregnancy is “good for women…great for politics…and…also ‘good for New Zealand because once again here we are showing that you can do things differently in a country like ours.’”