Jacinda Ardern Quits Politics, Joins Prince William’s Environment Charity
Jacinda Ardern delivered her final speech to New Zealand’s Parliament on Wednesday, as the former prime minister is set to begin new global roles combating online extremism and protecting the environment.
Ardern stepped down in January but had remained in Parliament to avoid triggering an election ahead of the national one in October. Her resignation as prime minister came as a surprise, especially abroad, where her empathetic style of governance elevated her as a liberal feminist icon, even as her reputation at home was more mixed.
Dogged throughout her term by sexist remarks and comments on her youth, the 42-year-old Ardern encouraged young people Wednesday not to be deterred by outdated perceptions of what makes a good leader.
“I do hope that I’ve demonstrated something else entirely. That you can be anxious, sensitive, kind, and wear your heart on your sleeve,” said Ardern, dressed in white, swathed in a traditional Maori cloak and fighting back tears. “You can be a mother or not. You can be an ex-Mormon or not. You can be a nerd, a crier, a hugger. You can be all of these things. And not only can you be here, you can lead just like me.”