It’s 2017 and there are rules about stuff like this. At least, there should be. Whether a woman plans to have babies or not is business of no one but herself. And her partner, if she has one. At least that’s the opinion stressed by Jacinda Ardern, New Zealand’s new opposition party leader.
Who is Jacinda Ardern Anyway?
Let’s face it, we don’t get a lot of news out of New Zealand, beyond the All Blacks, Hobbiton and the quality of its lamb. But all of a sudden, the faraway country is propelled into the spotlight — and not exactly for the right reasons.
Jacinda Ardern has only been on the job since Tuesday and the 37-year-old has already had to field personal questions about her plans for motherhood twice. The first time was just seven hours into her role, in an interview on TV show, The Project.
Jacinda Ardern may not have minded the first time, but it caused quite a stir among her female (and male) supporters on Twitter. After all, how many times has the male candidate and current New Zealand Prime Minister, Bill English, been asked that question?
Why Does It Matter So Much?
It seems that people are so anxious to hear about the Jacinda Ardern children situation because next month she could become the next Prime Minister of New Zealand. Which seems to be incompatible with her age and gender for many.
On Wednesday’s AM Show, panelist, Mark Richardson, decided to jump on the baby probing train, asking if it was “OK” for a Prime Minister to take maternity leave during her time in office.
He followed up with “If you’re an employer of a company, you need to know that type of thing from the women that you’re employing. Because legally, you have to give them maternity leave,” Richardson said.
While supporters of Jacinda Ardern, and many female voters in general, are outraged at the blatant invasion of privacy, she herself says she does not mind being asked the question.
However, she strongly disagreed with Richardson’s openly chauvinistic and inappropriate remarks about an employer’s right to know.
She said, “It is totally unacceptable in 2017 to say women should have to answer that question in the workplace.” Adding that under no circumstance should it influence whether a woman is given a job or not.
So Does She or Doesn’t She?
For New Zealand voters still curious about Jacinda Ardern and her baby plans, they’ll just have to find out when she chooses to share. Not because it’s a state secret, but simply because she has no answer yet, reiterating that it is a dilemma “no different” for her than for other women her age.
“You’ve just got to take every day as it comes, and try and see if you make the best of the lot you’ve been given,” she told viewers on The Project.
Where does the New Zealand Human Rights Commission stand on employers asking women about their plans for family? That’s a negative.
Employers should stay away from that question, as they could risk breaching the act on whether or not they plan to employ based on a woman’s decision to start a family.
So, seriously. Stop asking women if they plan on having babies, in the workplace, in government office and even in a bar. As Jacinda Ardern is proving, it’s a personal matter and not everyone’s right to know.