Editorial: Prime Minister Ardern’s courageous stepping down holds a message for us all


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Prime Minister of New Zealand Jacinda Ardern recently announced her upcoming resignation, having been an inspiration for many during her over five-year tenure.

Editorial Board

Last week, New Zealand’s Prime Minister, Jacinda Ardern, announced that she will not be seeking reelection and will step down by Feb. 7. The announcement came as a shock to New Zealand and the entire world. While there are some mixed feelings regarding her tenure and resignation, we can all take note of the courage required to step away from something when you recognize you don’t have the capacity to continue, especially when that “something” is leading an entire country. 

Ardern has been a prominent figure on the world stage for years, often admired and known for her “kindness” approach to politics. Notably, Ardern is the second prime minister to give birth while in office. While juggling being pregnant and a mother to a newborn, Ardern has responded to momentous events and initiated new policies. This includes her well-known response to Christchurch’s 2019 mosque shootings, where Ardern not only showed empathy to the Muslim community by reaching out to community members and wearing a head-scarf, but also took a swift response to the tragedy by restricting access to firearms. Furthermore, she has worked to support marginalized and underserved communities—implementing policies to help children and families in poverty, declaring the Māori New Year (Matariki) a public holiday, confronting gender-pay inequity and period product accessibility, participating in the Pride parade and much more. 

Ardern is also known for her swift COVID-19 response and her work in leading the fight against climate change. While no politician is perfect or should be glorified, it is clear that Ardern has been a significant prime minister since her 2017 election. 

Moreover, while Ardern may be renowned around the world, it is New Zealanders who are affected the most by her initiatives and, ultimately, are the most impacted by her resignation. More recently, though, Ardern and her party has decreased in popularity as the nation deals with the aftershocks of the pandemic (i.e., 2023 is expected to be a recession year). While Ardern has made immense progress for her country, there is still much to be done and to fight for. 

Now there are many questions revolving around Ardern’s resignation and New Zealand’s future. While the country may be in shock, it is important to acknowledge that Jacinda Ardern is a human being. She is a mother raising a young child, and while doing so she has been navigating major events and crises for over the past five years. Therefore, Ardern stating that she “no longer has enough in the tank to do [the job] justice” is a more than an understandable measure to take. She also addressed that there will be speculation behind the “real reason” for this step, but in fact, this is the only reason since she is “human.”

Ardern publicly announcing and recognizing that she does not have the capacity to be a leader of her country anymore is an incredibly courageous move to take. Knowing that she will get criticized, but prioritizing herself and the best interests of New Zealand after six years of service is something that we should all admire. In fact, more politicians worldwide should know when their own time is up and they don’t have the adequacy to give their all to the job. Furthermore, even we, as college students, should acknowledge when we don’t have the ability to continue something—whether it be dropping an extracurricular or even changing majors. Even though it is not to the same scale as being president or prime minister of a country, we also need to recognize our own limitations and humanness.

Ardern saying that with her “privileged role comes responsibility—the responsibility to know when you are the right person to lead and also, when you are not” is a wise recognition. Whether you are a world leader or a college student, there is something to be learned from Jacinda Ardern’s actions.