New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern attended the 73rd United Nations General Assembly in New York with an unusual guest in tow: her infant daughter Neve Te Aroha. Ardern made history as the first female world leader to attend the general assembly meeting with her three-month-old daughter, reported The Guardian.
The prime minister is still breastfeeding, requiring her to bring baby Neve to New York for the six-day trip. The baby was born in June and Ardern took six weeks maternity leave to be with her before returning to work in early August. After showing up to the U.N. on Monday, Ardern gave a speech at the Nelson Mandela peace summit while her partner Clarke Gayford held the baby.
The Today Show interviewed Ardern about her experience as a mother, asking if it was harder to govern her country or take the infant on a plane. The prime minister responded that “It felt at the time on par” and added that she had apologized in advance to fellow plane passengers. She also revealed that being a mom “had far surpassed my expectations.”
Ardern spoke to the New Zealand Herald about her partner, who is a fishing television presenter, and his role in the trip. She commented that they weren’t planning on bringing their daughter to any official events but that Gayford is the baby’s main caretaker and traveled along to take care of her. She also mentioned that Gayford’s tickets to New York and expenses were covered out of pocket instead of using taxpayer money as he would also be attending spousal engagements.
Because everyone on twitter's been asking to see Neve's UN id, staff here whipped one up.— Clarke Gayford (@NZClarke) September 24, 2018
I wish I could have captured the startled look on a Japanese delegation inside UN yesterday who walked into a meeting room in the middle of a nappy change.
Great yarn for her 21st. pic.twitter.com/838BI96VYX
“There is no spousal program for this, so we just made a judgment call that we would cover his travel for this trip. He will be going to some things, but he’s primarily traveling to care for Neve.”
At Unicef’s social good summit on Sunday, Ardern spoke about her commitment to ending child poverty and making the world a better place for her daughter to grow up in.
“I have the ability to take my child to work, there’s not many places you can do that. I am not the gold standard for bringing up a child in this current environment because there are things about my circumstances that are not the same…If I can do one thing, and that is change the way we think about these things, then I will be pleased we have achieved something.”
The only other world leader to give birth while in office was Pakistani prime minister Benazir Bhutto in 1990. She was dismissed from office seven months after the birth of her daughter.