Jacinda Ardern made history and became the first female leader to bring a baby to a meeting at the organisation’s New York headquarters. She was speaking at a peace summit on Monday 24 September and, as she’s still breastfeeding three-month-old Neve, made the decision to bring her daughter too.
“The freedom to take one’s baby to work will be a liberational breakthrough for mums,” said mum Jane Chelliah, 55, who has a 19-year-old daughter that she used to take to work during school holidays. “There are times and moments when the struggle to achieve a balance between work and life cannot be reconciled, like when childcare falls through. So it’s at moments like this when being able to take a baby to work is a breakthrough point.”
Mum Jenna Rutherford, 37, who has two children aged four and seven, agreed. “Jacinda taking her baby to work to stay connected, support breastfeeding and just show that she can still do her job (even if it’s going to look different now she’s a mum) is wonderful,” she said. “It’s such a lovely example of supporting the family bond, dad being there too. Jacinda is helping reshape views on what parenting and work have to look like.”
Mum Nyomi Winter, 34, a feminist family lifestyle blogger at Nomi Palony, said Jacinda making a stand to bring her baby to work could hopefully allow society to accept this as “normal”. “Good on Jacinda,” she said. “I really hope this conversation encourages employers to truly think about how much more flexible they could be with their flexible working.
“It’s not the 1920s anymore, women work outside the home and guess what, if we want the human race to continue on, then women will continue to have babies. Why is the system still all set up like it was when women largely only worked at home? If we want to close the gender pay gap quicker, then we should let parents bring their babies to work when necessary.”
And Siobhan Freegard, who founded the ChannelMum parenting forum, said it’s great mums around the world are able to see a woman finding a balance between work and motherhood. “Personally I think she’s doing a great job,” she said. “She’s found the balance that works for her family and she, her husband and baby Neve all seem happy. As long as the work gets done well, it’s no one else’s business how you choose to do it.”
Freegard also made the point that if we want more women in leadership roles, we need to accept that family will be a part of that. “Almost 51 per cent of the world is female, but just five per cent of world leaders are. If we are to redress the balance and make world politics more representative of the world population, we need more women leaders prepared to make a stand to combine work and family their way.”
Ardern gave birth to Neve in June and took six weeks of maternity leave, returning to work in August.