Economic Insider

New Zealand PM Jacinda Ardern Snaps Back at Reporter Following a Sexist Question

Brussels, Belgium. 25th January 2019.New Zealand's Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern and European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker hold a news conference.

New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern hits back at a reporter after the media person threw a gender-based question during a press conference.

Ardern appeared at a joint press conference with Finland’s Prime Minister Sanna Marin. During the press conference, the leaders highlighted the relationship between the two nations.

More importantly, the press conference gave importance to Finland’s contribution to the economic prosperity experienced by New Zealand. However, when reporters started asking the leaders, a reporter asked a question that threw off Ardern.

“A lot of people will be wondering, are you two meeting just because you’re similar in age and, you know, got a lot of common stuff there,” asked the New Zealand-based reporter.

“Or can Kiwis actually expect to see more deals down the line between the two countries—” the reporter added before Ardern answered the question.

“My first question is I wonder whether or not anyone ever asked [former U.S. President] Barack Obama and [former New Zealand Prime Minister] John Key and if they met because they were of similar age,” Ardern answered.

“We, of course, have a higher proportion of men in politics. It’s reality. But because two women meet, it’s not simply because of their gender.”

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Ardern highlighted Finland’s contribution

After dismissing the reporter’s seemingly sexist question, Ardern stressed Finland’s contribution. According to the Prime Minister, New Zealand and Finland have much in common.

Furthermore, the nations benefit from each other through exports, and as such, the question thrown at her earlier does not mean anything.

“Finland exports into New Zealand NZ$199 million worth of exports. They have particular technology in companies like Nokia, biofuels, and even basic industrial wares used in our buildings. For example, you won’t be aware that a large number of our elevators come out of Finland and agricultural machinery,” she said.

“New Zealand, on the other hand, trades about NZ$14 million worth. And it’s mostly in wine and beef. There is a huge potential between us… As individual nations, we look for opportunities to build on that economic agreement. So for me, this is timely. Next year, we’re looking to progress that FTA. Our meeting today as a chance alongside the Prime Minister’s high-level trade delegation of significant industry leaders, we leverage the economic opportunities between our two countries.”

“It’s our job to further it, regardless of our gender.”

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A negative reaction from public

The reporter’s remarks immediately received backlash from the public. Many described it as sexist and misogynistic. However, when Finland Prime Minister Marin spoke, she said they were having the meeting because they serve as their respective countries’ leaders. And regardless of gender, both must fortify the solid economic connection between Finland and New Zealand.

“He was one sentence away from asking the prime ministers if they met to talk about boys and if their periods have synced up yet,” said one reporter.

“A shame some journalists spoke to [Ardern and Marin] like they are 1950s housewives organizing a coffee morning,” another user Tweeted.

“During our governmental period, there has been the global pandemic, and there’s war now in Europe, there’s an energy crisis, perhaps an economic crisis in front of us. So many things on my plate are more concerning than my free time,” added Marin.

“You are free to discuss and write what you want, but I’m focusing on the issues in our program.”