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Let’s discuss the New Zealand PM’s baby

This week’s featured article

REUTERS

New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern gave birth to her first child, a girl, on Thursday, Ardern said in a posting on Instagram.

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.

Deputy Prime Minister Winston Peters has stepped in as acting prime minister and will run the country for the next six weeks while Ardern takes maternity leave, according to an agreement they published earlier.

Ardern gave birth in Auckland Hospital, the country’s largest public hospital, with her partner, TV presenter Clarke Gayford, at her side.

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

Ardern found out she was pregnant on Oct. 13, just six days before she was propelled into the job when Peters, the leader of the New Zealand First Party, announced he was siding with her Labour Party in post-election negotiations. Peters is a colorful political veteran who first entered Parliament in 1978 and has held senior positions in both center-left Labour and center-right National governments.

Ardern had played down the chances of any disruption arising from her absence, saying she and Peters would be in regular contact.

“There actually hasn’t really been a need to put down a plan. … We already talk about significant issues, that will just continue, we’ll just be in different roles,” she said in a interview with Fairfax media just before going on maternity leave.

Ardern has said she plans to return to work at the beginning of August.

Then, Gayford will take care of the baby and will travel with Ardern between their Auckland home and the capital, Wellington, as well as on international engagements.

Ardern worked until late into her pregnancy, regularly encountering members of the public who touched her stomach and passed on gifts such as onesies and miniature rain boots.

“It’s been great,” she told reporters at her last major public event before giving birth. “New Zealanders are incredibly generous people and have been generous in their support of me regardless of the politics just as another human being going into a new stage of life.”

First published in The Japan Times on June 22.

Warm up

One-minute chat about prime ministers.

Game

Collect words related to babies, e.g., parents, cute, stroller.

New words

1) coalition: a group who join together for a shared purpose, e.g., “They are forming a coalition to solve the immigration issue.”

2) inconclusive: leading to no definite result, e.g., “The evidence was inconclusive.”

3) deputy: assistant or second in command, e.g., “I shot the sheriff, but I did not shoot the deputy.”

Guess the headline

New Zealand le_ _ _ _ Jacinda Ardern gives b _ _ _ _ to her first child, a girl

Questions

1) What is New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern currently doing?

2) How did New Zealanders react?

3) What are her and her partner’s plans?

Let’s discuss the article

1) What do you think about this news?

2) What differences do you think there are between New Zealand and Japan?

3) Do you have anything to add about how expectant or new mothers are treated here?

Reference

歴代首相に女性が名を連ねたことのない日本にとって、国家元首が任期中に出産する国があることは驚きを持って受け止められるニュースでしょう。出産をするとなれば期間や程度の差こそあれそれまでと全く同じようには仕事ができない時間があり、周囲の理解や協力が不可欠です。それを得る難しさから妊娠出産をためらう働く女性がいるとしばしば言われる日本にも、いつか女性首相が出産するという時はやってくるのでしょうか。朝の会に参加し皆さんで話し合ってみましょう。

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