Jacinda Ardern’s resignation surprised many people around the world, but certain women will be especially interested in what she had to say.
The New Zealand prime minister has gained a lot of support for her charm and empathetic approach to leadership. Many of her followers are female, and they have closely tracked her development from neophyte PM to working mother, admiring her as a role model.
Ardern is not the only well-known person who have recently made headlines for announcing a surprise resignation due to burnout; others include athletes Naomi Osaka, Ash Barty, and Virat Kohli; and business leaders like James Packer.
But Ardern also has the extremely uncommon situation of being a working mother and a national leader. She became the second international leader, after Pakistan’s Benazir Bhutto, to give birth while in office.
It served as a severe test case for finding a work-life balance in many aspects. But it was also obvious that political elements were involved.
Her departure comes amid escalating political challenges, with her popularity ratings dropping as New Zealanders’ worries about crime and living expenses mount.
It’s never easy at the top, but during Ardern’s term, the country faced numerous difficulties, including a volcanic eruption, a horrifying home invasion, and an unparalleled epidemic. In her speech on Thursday, Ardern mentioned the “continuous and substantial” choices she had to make.
Throughout her journey, she has also had to deal with heavy public scrutiny, from her decision to take six weeks of maternity leave, which spurred discussion over whether it was too short, to her announcement of her pregnancy just months after assuming office.
“Given that [Neve] is still so young and small, I always anticipated that there would be some serious conflict between making sure I was taking care of all of her requirements and, of course, my obligations. But I have faith that we will succeed because of all the support I am fortunate to have “She at the time told reporters.
She was also glad to post about her parenting struggles on social media, including how difficult it was to make the ideal birthday cake for her kid and how embarrassing it was to discover a diaper cream stain on her blazer after a long day of meetings.
The most emotional section of her resignation address, however, focused on the personal consequences of high political position.
“Politicians are people too. For as long as we can, we give everything we have, but eventually, “Speaking with a shaky voice, Ardern added. “And it’s time for me… I am aware of the effort required for this profession and am aware that I am no longer up to the task.”
She expressed her desire to spend more time with her family because they had “made the biggest sacrifices out of all of us,” according to her. She expressed excitement about “being there” for her daughter when she starts school and suggested getting married to her partner Clarke.
Many people had hoped to see her forge on and will be disappointed that she was unable to do so, but they will undoubtedly also feel sympathy for her plight.
Of course, her choice was motivated by political considerations.
Her rapid rise to power was fueled by “Jacinda-mania,” but as her government tries to address post-pandemic economic issues including growing living expenses and widening social inequality, New Zealand’s affection for her has soured.
Her approval rating recently fell to its lowest point since August 2017—shortly before she was elected prime minister—as the Labour party also saw declining support.
Despite her denials, Ardern’s move might also be regarded as a shrewd move to salvage her party and prevent a humiliating loss for herself in the forthcoming election as the incumbent PM. Even some of her detractors who are praising her departure claim she is trying to save what is left of her political reputation by invoking burnout as an excuse.
Whether this is burnout, a resignation from a contentious political position, or even both, some will unavoidably interpret her departure as a strong message about the value of establishing boundaries and respecting personal limits.
“I am by no means the first woman to multitask, and in terms of being a woman in politics, there are plenty of women who carved a path and incrementally have led the way to be able to make it possible for people to look upon my time in leadership and think, yes, I can do the job and be a mother,” Jacinda Ardern stated in 2018.