One day this won’t be news, but currently is it: Jacinda Ardern, New Zealand’s Prime Minister recently
announced that she was pregnant. She is one of few elected officials to be pregnant in office. Another rare
example is Pakistan’s, Benazir Bhutto, who gave birth while she was prime minister in 1990.
Even more news worthy, Jacinda announced that her husband would become a ‘Stay at Home Dad’, his role to be the main carer of their child and accompany her on numerous trips around the world. Jacinda and her husband have cleverly crafted a job title for him ‘Chief Fisherman in Charge’, much more commanding than ‘Stay at Home Dad’ don’t you think? According to news reports, Jacinda has committed to taking just 6 weeks maternity leave.
So is this great news for women?
I see it as both exciting and problematic, for the following reasons:
· Jacinda was constantly questioned about her baby plans while running for office, something that is illegal in the recruitment process. Now she has become pregnant will they react negatively to the news?
· Is taking 6 weeks maternity leave a condition of the job, a choice or a compromise? What if she had wanted to take a years’ maternity leave, how would the country and government have reacted? Of course Jacinda may be afraid that those around her will try to take her position away permanently if she is away too long.
· Jacinda’s husband has said that he will turn to female friends and relations for advice on parenting. Why in society are there so few male role models to turn to when it comes to caring?
The challenge of being a working mum of young children in a high profile role has been much written about by women, such as Anne Marie Slaughter, who has said that high profile work and family are fundamentally incompatible. However, depending on Jacinda’s time in office, she may be released ready to deal with the thorny teenage years.
An increasing number of women are now the main earners in their relationships and highlighting this role in life can only be a good thing. Unequal pay, for example, is particularly crippling when the main earner in a home is a woman.
I have 3 pieces of advice for Jacinda on making her role as a female breadwinner work for her, from the
women I’ve coached and my own experience:
1. Create your rules for your life, don’t live by others’ rules, they won’t serve you and will only make you
2. Delegate fully and trust others to do a good job, don’t undermine them or think that you do everything
3. Schedule in some ME time, men in positions of power always have hobbies, I am not sure that their
female counterparts do. Giving everything to work and family means that there is nothing left for you.
Schedule in time to refresh, replenish and refill.
I wish Jacinda and her growing family huge success and I believe that she can make it work, breaking down stereotypes along the way.