Achievement
She became New Zealand’s most popular prime minister in a century, according to a poll, thanks to her Covid-19 response that made the country among the most successful in curbing the spread of the disease.
World's women leaders
Jacinda Ardern
Prime Minister of New Zealand

Biodata

  • 1980 : Born in Hamilton on 26 July as Ms Adern Kate Laurell Ardern. Grew up in Morrinsville and Murapura in New Zealand’s North Island.
  • 1999 : Joined the Labour Party and campaigned for it during the general election campaign.
  • 2001 : Graduated from the University of Waikato, with a Bachelor's degree in Communication Studies (BCS), specialising in politics and public relations After graduating, worked as a researcher in the Office of Prime Minister Helen Clark, her political mentor.
  • 2005 : Worked in the cabinet office of British Prime Minister Tony Blair.
  • 2007 : Was elected as president of the International Union of Social Youth
  • 2008 : Became a List MP, the youngest member of New Zealand’s House of Representatives.
  • 2017 : Aug 1: Became Labour Party leader.
  • 2017 : Oct 26: Became Prime Minister, the world's youngest PM at that time. Appointed Minister of National Security and Intelligence; Arts, Culture and Heritage; and Vulnerable Children.
  • 2020 : Won re-election with a landslide victory.
“ It takes courage and strength to be empathetic, and I’m very proudly an empathetic and compassionate leader. ”

Jacinda Ardern

The politician who won people's hearts

When New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern visited Thailand for the East Asia Summit in 2019, she surprised officials and media waiting at the airport for the world's youngest PM.

Ms Adern stepped out of the plane, dressed in a blue shirt, with rolled-up sleeves, black pants and an oversized black bag — definitely not a designer brand — slung over her shoulder.

If Thai officials had initially perceived the visitor's dress code as overly casual, they were immediately won over by the New Zealand prime minister's disarming smile and down-to-earth demeanour. These humble attributes have become the trademark of the woman who, at the tender age of 37, became the world's youngest youngest prime minister in 2017.

That impressive record was broken in 2019, however, when 34-year Sanna Mirella Marin was elected prime minister of Finland.

In the early days, Ms Adern's youth and humility did not inspire much confidence, especially among her critics, who made it clear they did not believe that smiles, charm and a positive attitude were not enough to run a country.

But Ms Adern proved to be that most uncommon type of leader, capable of being both strong and empathetic. Her performance in office has certainly won the respect of people around the world, especially in times of crisis.

In March 2019, a few months before visiting Thailand, the Kiwi PM made her mark on the international stage through the level-headed way she led New Zealand, which she described as “Our team of five million people” through the tragic shootings at two mosques in Christchurch, where 50 people were shot dead by a white supremacist.

She chose to unite the country and to console, sending out an inclusive signal by wearing a hijab (Muslim head scarf) to attend the funerals, offering her sympathy to Muslim communities and making widely quoted speeches.

"He is a terrorist, he is a criminal, he is extremist but he will, when I speak, be nameless," she declared. "He may have sought notoriety but we in New Zealand will give him nothing, not even his name."

However, lind words alone cannot be effective unless followed through with decisive action.

Within weeks of the tragedy, Ms Adern tightened the country's gun control laws even more by banning military-style weapons.

But what catapulted her to her status as a truly global leader was the way she coped with the Covid-19 pandemic, a crisis that has destroyed the reputations of many leaders.

In March last year, New Zealand declared a national state of emergency and imposed a one-month lockdown. NZ's lockdown and pandemic would have been much harder without the much-admired communication of the prime minister ... who had studied mass communication at university.

“Make no mistake this will get worse before it gets better. We will have a lag and cases will increase for the next week or so. Then we’ll begin to know how successful we have been,” she said in an early Facebook live update in March 2020.

Ms Adern was reelected in a landslide victory in October last year.

Her leadership and her lifestyle have often captured media attention. She made headlines in 2018 when she took her three-month-old infant with her to a United Nations meeting, since she and her partner did not have a nanny.

“I am not the first woman to multitask. I am not the first woman to work and have a baby — there are many women who have done this before,” she reportedly told BBC's Victoria Derbyshire in 2019.

Asked about her leadership style, Ms Adern told Ms Derbyshire that she was just a woman who was not afraid to let people see her frailties.

“To me, leadership is not about necessarily being the loudest in the room, but instead being the bridge, or the thing that is missing in the discussion and trying to build a consensus from there,” she said.

“It takes courage and strength to be empathetic, and I’m very proudly an empathetic and compassionate leader. I am trying to chart a different path, and that will attract criticism but I can only be true to myself and the form of leadership I believe in.”