“SHE came, she conquered and she left” best describes the just over five years reign of New Zealand’s Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern who when announced to step down her position said she no longer has “enough in the tank” to remain as leader..
Jacinda leaves a legacy of most successfully tackling unprecedented challenges during her tenure including the Christchurch terrorist attack, COVID-19 pandemic and a major natural disaster with compassion, calmness, clarity and dignity, that won the hearts and minds of the international community.
Now when she realistically realised that she can not justify to remain in her position, she simply decided to leave. This noble act is a far cry from many politicians, kings and dictators who will do anything and everything required to stick with their chair.
“I believe that leading a country is the most privileged job anyone could ever have but also one of the more challenging. You cannot and should not do it unless you have a full tank plus a bit in reserve for those unexpected challenges,” Jacinda said during her announcement to step down.
The Muslim community in New Zealand and globally will fondly remember Jacinda’s flawless leadership leading the collective response of just about every New Zealander in the aftermath of the Christchurch mosque massacre that left the Muslim Ummah and the world in absolute awe facilitating the healing process.
Her immediate demonstration of sincerity and compassion and solidarity with the Muslim community in her “They are us” speech will forever be remembered as the turning point in the history of humanity, on the path towards peace.
Within a week she had banned semiautomatic rifles and established a buyback program across the nation. She sent a clear message of not giving the “terrorist” the notoriety he craves by never mentioning his name. This was the kind of leadership all nations should aspire to have.
Jacinda had the Quran read in parliament and Azaan, the Islamic call to prayer broadcast nationally during Friday congregation in respect for the deceased and she embraced sincerely the families of the victims.
Unlike many, particularly Muslim male, “Presidents for life”, power hungry dictators and the leaders in the Middle East, this humble leader of the opposite gender simply vacated her chair after a most successful reign, rather than sticking to power at any cost.
She is indeed not only a role model for politicians but for all, male or female to make the right decision at the right time with work-life balance with individual, family or community commitments, giving priority to her family commitments at the cost of name and fame.
The following are her landmark achievements recognising her highly successful leadership:
- At 37, she became the world’s youngest head of state in 2017, as New Zealand’s Prime Minister.
- On 21 June 2018, less than a year into her tenure as PM, she became the first sitting New Zealand PM to give birth and the second female state leader to do so in the world. She became the first world leader to bring baby to the UN general assembly and challenged more expectations.
- She has transformed public assumptions about women in leadership. She offers the world transparency (frequently posting videos, updates and news on social media and about her role as a parent).
- She received universal praise for her leadership in the aftermath of the Christchurch shooting, where an alt-right white supremacist killed 51 people and injured 49 in two mosques.
- Just six days after the shootings, she announced gun control measures to ban all types of semi-automatic weapons. She banned military-style semi-automatics less than a month after Christchurch shootings.
- She provided period products to all girls making a public commitment to end “period poverty” by giving all school-aged people who have periods free sanitary products.
- In late April 2020, she announced that there was no longer any undetected community transmission of COVID-19 in NZ and that her country had effectively “eliminated” the virus.