Published: Thu, August 03, 2017
Markets | By Noel Gibbs

Just 7 Hours Into Job, Female Politician Asked About Motherhood Plans

Just 7 Hours Into Job, Female Politician Asked About Motherhood Plans

Another, Jesse Mulligan, politely posed the question, saying: "A lot of women in New Zealand feel like they have to make a choice between having babies and having a career or continuing their career ... so is that a decision you feel you have to make or that you feel you've already made?"

"I think it's a legitimate question for New Zealand, because she could be the prime minister leading this country", Richardson said, referring to Ardern's possible role if she pulls off a dramatic reversal of fortune for the opposition party.

The angry exchange, during which Ms Ardern pointed her finger at Mr Richardson, followed a more relaxed discussion about her family plans the previous day, hours after she was announced as Labour's new leader.

Richardson defended his statement, again pointing to the employer's right to know.

"I got to a certain age where I was like, "f*** this", but looking back on it, it was always what she was destined for".

In the United Kingdom, the law prohibits discrimination against women of childbearing age in the workplace; employers can't ask questions about such plans in an interview setting or once hired, and women have the right to keep any plans they do have private.

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The 37-year-old Ardern said Richardson's comments hadn't offended her personally, but "it is totally unacceptable in 2017 to say that women should have to answer that question in the workplace". "For other women, it is totally unacceptable in 2017 to say that women should have to answer that question in the workplace", she said.

"My position is no different than the woman who works three jobs, or who might be in a position where they're juggling lots of responsibilities".

"It should not predetermine whether or not they get the job", she continued. "Oh, and by the way, it's illegal to ask those questions".

"If you're wondering why the reaction to Jacinda Ardern baby q, it's b/c NZ women have been reminded they're baby makers first and foremost", tweeted New Zealand journalist Frances Cook.

Commentators were asking whether a male politician would be questioned along the same lines.

Yesterday the leader of New Zealand's Labour Party resigned, and deputy Jacinda Ardern took over the top job.

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Ms Ardern addressed them head-on.

'I didn't realise Jacinda Ardern was the first person to ever run for Prime Minister who was also able to become a parent, ' added another user.

"Quite frankly, whether a woman intends on having children or not is none of their bloody business", said Jackie Blue, New Zealand's equal opportunities commissioner.

"Like Labour our party is concerned about more than half the prison population being Māori, not enough Māori people owning their own homes, whānau ora not getting enough funding to make the difference we want it to and the shocking number of people sleeping in their cars and on the streets".

The head of New Zealand's Labour Party, Andrew Little, said on Tuesday he was stepping down after "disturbing" poll results, strengthening the chances of the governing National Party less than two months before the country's national election.

Earlier this year Ardern told the New Zealand Herald that she wanted to become a mother, which would make being the party's leader hard.

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