Jacinda Ardern and Sanna Marin wondered if they met because of their age

Suspension

New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern and Finnish Prime Minister Sanna Marin hit back after a reporter said they only met because they were the same age — a question that quickly drew accusations of “casual sexism” in the media against the world’s younger female leaders. .

The two held a Press Conference In Auckland, New Zealand, on Wednesday after their first face-to-face encounter – which Ardern described as a “historic occasion” marking the country’s celebration First visit From the Prime Minister of Finland.

The two said they discussed their countries’ reactions to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and their concerns about the crackdown on protesters in Iran. Ardern said they highlighted their countries’ shared values, including “pluralism and a rules-based international order,” while Marin noted that “Finland and New Zealand are among the oldest democracies in the world.”

But the reporter focused on what he believes is the most important thing Ardern, 42, and Marin, 37, have in common. “A lot of people are going to ask, ‘Are you going to meet just because you’re a similar age and have a lot in common there – when you got into politics and stuff – or do Kiwis really expect to see more deals between our two countries down the line?'” asked a reporter from New Zealand radio station Newstalk ZB.

Ardern, who seemed a bit skeptical, replied: “I wonder if anyone asked Barack Obama and John Key if they met because they were the same age,” referring to the former New Zealand prime minister who was born five days after the former US president.

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“We of course have a higher proportion of men in politics, it’s a fact. Because two women meet, it’s not simply because of their gender,” said Ardern. Sheen then described the trade relations and economic opportunities between the two countries, adding: “It is our job to strengthen them, regardless of our gender “.

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Meanwhile, Marin said with a laugh, “We’re getting together because we’re prime ministers, of course… We have a lot in common, but also a lot where we can do more together.” In particular, she added, she wants to reduce her country’s dependence on “authoritarian countries” when it comes to technology and natural resources.

The question about age and gender drew criticism in the local media, where it was described as ‘Inaccurate sexism’ And the “Casual Sexism”. WatchmanIn the meantime, she quickly put together a video titled: “So many times Jacinda Ardern has faced sexist questions from reporters.”

Both leaders have dealt with an inordinate amount of age- and gender-focused questions in the past.

When Ardern became prime minister in 2017, The journalists focused their questioning on whether she intended to have children or take maternity leave. After announcing her pregnancy in 2018, a reporter also focused on her appearance and asked when she carried her child — a line from questioning viewers slammed as “scary”.

Women dance in solidarity with Finnish Prime Minister Sanna Marin

Meanwhile, Marin has come under fire from political opponents after videos emerged of the Finnish leader partying with her friends at a private event. Critics called her unprofessional – even as others rallied to support her and likened her to older male politicians who play golf.

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Women are still underrepresented in politics, with only 28 countries represented by elected female leaders. According to UN Women Figures from Sept. “At the current rate, gender equality will not be reached in the highest positions of power for another 130 years,” the UN agency added.

In what could be a sign of the rarity of seeing two world leaders together on stage, many of the other reporters’ questions at Wednesday’s news conference also focused on Ardern and Marin’s gender.

Reporters asked if they had thought about how they could set an example for other women, whether young women leaders should work so hard to avoid criticism of their personal lives, and how Marin felt about being called the “prime minister of the party” of Finland in the New Zealand press.

“It’s very good that we have a free media, that we have a critical view of politicians,” Marin said. However, she added, “I also want to show an example that, different types of people can be political. … I think it’s very important that we also show the youngest generations that you can be yourself and still be involved in politics.”

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