22 Jun 2018

Birth of PM's baby makes international headlines

12:30 am on 22 June 2018

The news of the birth of Jacinda Ardern and Clarke Gayford's baby has made news around the world.

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Photo: AFP

BBC World led their news with the story in the hours after the announcement, and it was the most-read story on its news website last night.

Their story was headlined "Jacinda Ardern baby: New Zealand PM gives birth to girl."

The New York Times favoured "delivered" over "gives birth", but the headline was the same message. The story drew a parallel to the only other leader to deliver a baby while in office, the late Benazir Bhutto, who was Prime Minister of Pakistan at the time.

"While news reports at the time of Ms. Bhutto's delivery said Pakistanis sang and danced in the streets with joy, she also faced criticism for having a second child. Opposition leaders said that "the country would be leaderless while she was hospitalized", The New York Times reported at the time.

"There is no easygoing 'mommy track' for heads of state," The Times wrote in 1990 about Ms Bhutto's uphill political battle."

UK Prime Minister Theresa May tweeted "Congratulations on the birth of your little girl."

The CBC heralded New Zealand's forward thinking.

"The public has generally been supportive of the popular Ardern. New Zealand has long had a progressive reputation and was the first country to give women the right to vote in 1893. Ardern is the country's third female prime minister."

Deutsche Welle commented on the Prime Minister's work ethic.

"The birth had been highly anticipated in the South Pacific nation of nearly 5 million people, and Ardern continued to work right up until the birth, with her partner posting a photo of her poring over official documents from home on social media on Wednesday afternoon, along with the hashtag "#stillwaiting.""

Fox News also led with the baby's birth, saying: "Ardern, 37, became New Zealand's youngest prime minister when she took office through a coalition deal last year after an inconclusive election, and now becomes the first woman in the country's history to give birth while in office."

CNN only had the story in a sidebar in the evening, but quoted RNZ journalist Jessie Chiang, and said "Excitement and anticipation had been building over the last few days, with many media outlets setting up live blogs to track the latest developments." (You can read RNZ's live blog here.)

Across the Tasman, the Sydney Morning Herald pointed out the lineage the baby shares.

"Ardern is one of the few elected leaders to hold office while pregnant. Pakistan's Benazir Bhutto gave birth while she was prime minister in 1990. Incidentally, June 21 was Bhutto's birthday and is that of another first born, Prince William."

The ABC highlighted the role of acting Prime Minister Winston Peters, while Ms Ardern takes six weeks parental leave.

"Mr Peters - a colourful political veteran and head of the populist New Zealand First party - had already taken over some of Ms Ardern's duties in recent days, including running Cabinet meetings in the capital of Wellington while she stayed close to home in Auckland."

The story was the most read on The Guardian, and the site shared an opinion piece by former Prime Minister Helen Clark, titled "Jacinda Ardern shows that no doors are closed to women.".

"Ardern's pregnancy came as a surprise to her and Gayford," Ms Clark writes, "but they took it in their stride.

"Arrangements were made for Ardern to work until very close to the birth, and then for the deputy prime minister to act in her place while she takes some six weeks maternity leave - although no one really believes that Ardern will be far from her phone! After that, Gayford takes over as primary carer for the foreseeable future.

"In a world where there are still glass ceilings to be smashed and where many countries continue to have laws, policies, and practices that discriminate against women, the message from New Zealand is one of hope - that women can break through all barriers and do it in their own way as Ardern has done."

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