(Bloomberg) — New Zealand's Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern's resignation marks a major loss for the small club of women leaders around the world.
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While other women have led major countries, Ardern is one of the great heads of state and a beacon for many feminists around the world. In the year 2017, at the age of 37, she became the youngest female head of state. She is the second woman to give birth while in power and the first woman to take maternity leave after former Pakistani Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto.
According to UN data on September 19, some 28 countries retain heads of state or government, including Italian Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni, Tanzania's Samia Soloho Hassan, and Peruvian President Dina Polwart.
After Ardern's emotional departure, women in New Zealand and elsewhere focused on the abuses during her six years as prime minister. Former New Zealand Prime Minister Helen Clark said Thursday: “Jacinda is witnessing a level of hate and evil in our country that I have never seen before.
Banished by her party as Australia's first female prime minister, Julia Gillard said Ardern had shown the world a new style of leadership and was a "shining light" to many women.
The Guardian reported in June that attacks on Ardern had tripled between 2019 and 2021. Women in high political positions were reported to be more frequently harassed and violent than men. According to a Princeton University study, women in local politics are 3.4 times more likely to be assaulted than men.
(Updated with comments from Julia Gillard. Previous story corrected to show Ardern rose to power in 2017.)
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