Is pregnant PM a world first?

Is this another world first for New Zealand?:

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern and her partner, Clarke Gayford, have today announced that they are expecting their first child in June.

“We’re both really happy. We wanted a family but weren’t sure it would happen for us, which has made this news unexpected but exciting.

“Yesterday I met with Deputy Prime Minister, Winston Peters, to share the news and to ask him to take on the role of Acting Prime Minister for a period of 6 weeks after our baby is born.

“As is the case when I am overseas, Mr Peters will act as Prime Minister, working with my office while staying in touch with me. I fully intend to be contactable and available throughout the six week period when needed.

“Mr Peters and I have a great relationship, and I know that together we’ll make this period work. I will make arrangements for appropriate Ministers to act in my other portfolios over the six weeks I am away from Parliament.

“At the end of my leave I will resume all Prime Ministerial duties.

“Clarke and I are privileged to be in the position where Clarke can stay home to be our primary caregiver. Knowing that so many parents juggle the care of their new babies, we consider ourselves to be very lucky. . . 

Several women have become mothers while they’re MPs but this is the first New Zealand Prime Minister to be pregnant in office.

Jenny Shipley’s children were in their teens when she became PM and Helen Clark didn’t have children.

Someone with a better knowledge of New Zealand political history than mine might correct me, but I can’t name a New Zealand Prime Minister who became a father while in office. *

My knowledge of international political history is even more scanty. I can name several women Prime Ministers with children but none who gave birth while holding the office.

My generation was probably the last to be brought up thinking we’d marry and have babies, in that order, and that at least while the children were young would put mothering before paid work.

Younger women have been brought up being told girls can do anything which is often interpreted to mean not just everything but everything at once.

That is of course impossible. But younger men have also been brought up with the expectation they will play a much more active role in parenting than the men of earlier generations did.

Providing the pregnancy, birth and childhood go smoothly, it is possible for a woman to grow and deliver a baby, take some leave, then return to work and for the baby’s father to take on the role of stay-at-home parent.

As Liam Hehir says the country should keep running while she’s on leave.

. . . This is good news. Children are a blessing. But apart from happiness for Ardern and her partner, there is another reason to be glad. This is an opportunity for New Zealand to demonstrate its bona fides as a mature and stable liberal democracy.

The good governance of this country should not depend on the constant availability of any one person. If a system breaks down over the temporary absence of a single individual, then that system is not fit for purpose. The prime ministership is not, and should never be, be a single point of failure for the country as a whole. . . 

Mark Richardson was roundly criticised for asking Ardern about her plans to have a family.

The criticism wasn’t entirely fair. The couple’s family plans are their own business but a question on the impact that might have on the country is legitimate.

At the time I thought the critics were underestimating the demands of both roles – that of Prime Minister and parenting. But others can deputise for the PM.

Women have been raising families while their children’s fathers were in demanding jobs for aeons. That is still more common but men are increasingly taking on parenting to enable their children’s mothers to pursue their careers.

Before he was an MP, Bill English was a stay at home parent while his wife Mary worked as a GP.

New Zealand’s systems should be robust enough to ensure there is no cause for concern about the running of the country while motherhood takes priority for Ardern and the running of their home and family is not our business.

I wish them well and I hope that everything goes as planned.

Whether or not it does, I hope that the baby will come before the country.

There are plenty of other people who are able to put New Zealand first. All babies deserve parents who will put them first.

* Update: The Herald says: Benazir Bhutto, then President of Pakistan,  gave birth to her daughter Bakhtawar on January, 25 1990,  while in office.





9 Responses to Is pregnant PM a world first?

  1. Andrei says:

    “Is pregnant PM a world first?”

    No – Benazir Bhutto beat her to this by 28 years

    But she will be the first female Prime Minister to give birth to a bastard in office unless of course Clarke Gayford makes an honest woman of her

  2. homepaddock says:

    Andrei – I am appalled that in the 21st century a child, not yet born, would be given a derogatory label. Whatever you might think of the parents, the baby is innocent.

  3. Andrei says:

    Ele – the dictionary definition of that word

    a person born of unmarried parents; an illegitimate child.

    That is the English language

    Nobody gets to choose their parents – this child will be born into privilege

    Others through no fault of their own will be born into poverty and despair – think Nia Glassie.

    Civilized society over the millennia created the institution of marriage in order to reduce the number of Nia Glassies born into this world by bonding men with women in order to provide protection and sustenance to the children arising from that union

    As a leader of our society the PM should be leading by example, being a role model for the young men and women whose destiny is not to occupy an office on the 9th floor of the Beehive but to gut fish in a cannery and to maintain the sewers…

    A woman in her position has great privilege but with that should come responsibility and the perception that she needs to lead by example.

    I apologize for causing offense

  4. Roj Blake says:

    No need to apologize, Andrei, we all know you’re a first class misogynist cunt.

  5. Andrei says:

    I love debating with intellectual giants such as yourself Roj

    Your comment speaks for itself, you have nothing to add to the debates concerning the role of the family in society.

    What amazes me it the amount of time, energy and money is expended on worrying over the supposed deleterious effects of cow farts on the polar icecaps 100s of years from now often by people who are not putting their resources and energies into raising the next generation and thereby investing in the future of our society and culture

    “For what shall it profit a man, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul?”

  6. homepaddock says:

    Andrei, I know the definition and don’t think it’s fair to label a baby because of something his parents do or don’t do. I share your views that children are best with two loving parents and also the importance of marriage. I wasn’t offended but was sad about the label, especially when there are so many babies born without love and whatever you think of their relationship there’s no suggestions that this baby isn’t welcome and already loved.

    Roj – debate the issue without attacking the person. Your label of Andrei is worse than his of the baby. though I don’t like it, his is technically correct but I haven’t seen anything to suggest Andrei hates women.

  7. Andrei says:

    I know the definition and don’t think it’s fair to label a baby because of something his parents do or don’t do.

    Agreed but do you know what is even more unfair?

    The circumstances Nia Glassie was born into!

    There is a reason why that word provokes a strong emotional response in you, if you think about it

    We all agree that it is vital that those responsible for bringing children into this world take their responsibilities seriously and that begins with making a public lifelong commitment to the other party in this enterprise…

    My Father once asked me how I felt about living the rest of my life with a girl I was going out with who he did not hold in high esteem and told me plain, if she got pregnant I’d be stuck with her – there was no way his flesh and blood would bear the label of that word!

    Hideously old fashioned I know

    Result I married someone else and raised four kids who are thriving

    We have a Royal Wedding to look forward to this year, with privilege comes the responsibility to set a good example 🙂

  8. pdm` says:

    Andre these last few words from your final sentence sum things up:

    `………………..with privilege comes the responsibility to set a good example 🙂’

    It is exactly what mrspdm said in slightly different words when I told her of the PM’s pregnancy earlier today.

    roj blake that language on someone elses’ blog is appalling – you should apologise to HP.

  9. Teletext says:

    I agree with Andrei as it is the correct word, even though it’s usage for this type of event has long since lapsed.
    I also agree with PDM in that Roj owes Ele a most sincere and abject apology.
    When it all boils down, it’s seem that the snowflakes are going to have an extremely enjoyable 6 months and will no doubt boost the sales of the women’s magazines to record heights but for the rest of us, congratulations but is it really that important and who cares?

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