The tides of gender roles have been changing recently
Perhaps best illustrated by an off-hand comment by Pippa Wetzell’s seven-year-old. “Mum, can a boy be Prime Minister?” he asked her soon after Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern had given birth to her first child, Neve.
And, although Pippa’s reply “Absolutely, boys can do anything girls can do” is, at face value, accurate, it has always been equally as accurate in reverse. Because although until now, women have generally been physically and mentally ‘capable’ of doing anything men can do, fact is, they haven’t been ‘able’ to.
If you’re still wondering what the big deal is about the Prime Minister giving birth while in office, then I’m glad. I’m glad because of what that means for New Zealand as a country.
Globally there are very few women in power and fewer yet of childbearing age. It has been almost 30 years since Pakistan’s then leader, Benazir Bhutto gave birth to her daughter Bakhtawar. She was the only modern head of government to give birth while in office, until now.
As we celebrate the 125 year anniversary of Kate Sheppard’s pioneering women’s suffrage movement successfully campaigning for women to get the right to vote at a time when no other country had done so, we’re now onto our third female Prime Minister.
Does that make us unique? Does that make us special? Does that make us extraordinary? It does, but perhaps not in the eyes of Pippa’s son’s generation after all, they’re growing up in a country where it’s normal for a woman to be in power.