“He sought a lot of things out from his act of terror. But one was notoriety. And that is why you will never hear me mention his name.”
Most of you must’ve already guessed where this quote was taken from and who it refers to. Although I acknowledge it isn’t the most cheerful ways to begin this article it was this line during her speech that earned my utmost and sincere respect and it was after seeing this speech her name became more and more relevant to me.
Jacinda Ardern was merely 17 years old when she got associated with NZ’s Labour party, she later revealed it was the poverty she grew up seeing around her that inspired her to do so, and I personally believe this is one of the key reasons she is so relevant to today’s youth, because she grew up in times closer to ours and took politics at a very young age.
But her being young isn’t the only reason I support and look up to her, she’s young and effective as a leader i.e. she usually takes swift action whenever needed and doesn’t waste any time at all in doing so, unlike the majority of other countries that often do. And she has maintained this image time and time again, two of the most memorable examples being:
1) In 2019 after the heinous Christchurch terror attack, she and the government immediately set out to tighten the gun laws in the country, banning the possession of assault style rifles and semi automatic weapons and they decided to do so in just 72 hours that is 3 days. And surprisingly this move wasn’t opposed by the rest of the country either which honestly is never the case in most places that allow the possession of firearms.
2) Her swift response to the pandemic – she enforced a strict lockdown that was followed by everyone religiously and one of the main reasons NZ recovered so quickly is because she let the healthcare professionals take charge and implemented their advice, although many people argue that NZ is a much smaller country, which is why it was easier to restrict the spread of the virus and enforce these rules, I believe it was also because she as leader is extremely self disciplined herself which in turn reflects on her country. She leads by example.
I generally remain very neutral when it comes to political figures because I know that they are multifaceted just like the rest of us and in the end we as the public will never really know what goes on behind the scenes, but it gets really difficult to not be in Jacinda Ardern’s favour when she continuously shows her compassionate and empathetic nature all the while being charismatic and down to earth.
And this isn’t me trying to portray her as “docile” or “tame” compared to her male counterparts in other countries who are seen as more aggressive or ruthless. I would say she is aggressive and she is ruthless but in her own way. She was aggressive when she decided to tighten the gun laws in the country, she was ruthless when she spoke about the terrorist, she was forceful when she closed the borders to the country, my point being, she carries this multifaceted image well, kind when she has to be and aggressive when it’s needed, apart from the action the government took her response to the terror attack wasn’t something out of this world or unimaginable quite the contrary her response was ‘normal’ and actually humane. She grieved with her fellow citizens and made sure that they didn’t have to worry about anything else. Similarly to show her support for the LGBTQIA+ community she simply joined the pride march that was going on without making it about her.
And that is why I refer to her as a leader of our times, I’m not saying she rules the world or anything like that what I mean by that statement is that she is a leader cultivated out of our times thus making her relatable and likable. Here’s me hoping she maintains this image for the rest of her term and continues to pave the path and inspire not just the women in politics but the men too.
Jacinda Ardern may or may not be the first of her kind in politics but her being there has certainly ensured she won’t be the last.