Politicians are following Jacinda Ardern’s lead when it comes to children and work.
If asked to name a politician who has (literally) been leading the way when it comes to politicians showing how progressive they are, you’ll probably cite Jacinda Ardern, and rightly so.
Ardern became only the second elected leader in the world to give birth while in office. Then she made history by becoming the first world leader to take her baby to a gathering of the UN general assembly. And of course, there are the numerous occasions when she’s shot down sexist and creepy questions asked by interviewers.
And now it seems that her colleagues in New Zealand’s parliament are taking her lead and running with it.
MP Tamati Coffey has just returned from paternity leave after he and husband Tim Smith welcomed a baby boy, born through surrogate. During a debate this week, on his first day back, Coffey brought the couple’s baby to work with him.
That’s rare enough in itself - we don’t often see male politicians bringing their children to work with them, and so this is a big moment for local and international politics.
But that wasn’t all. Coffey needed to give his full attention to the debate, so in stepped New Zealand’s speaker of the house, Trevor Mallard, who offered up his services as a babysitter.
Mallard fed the baby, rocked him and burped him, all while presiding over the debate, while other MPs tweeted their delight at having the baby in parliament. The Lord Mayor of Kingston Upon Hull in the UK even tweeted his appreciation, saying: “How come New Zealand just seem to get everything right. Beautiful photos.”
Obviously, pictures and video from the debate have caught the public’s attention, and for good reason. By being welcoming to Coffey’s son, Mallard and New Zealand’s parliament have shown that parenting and politics can go hand in hand.
Of course, babies shouldn’t be hanging out at political debates every day, but as parents know, things sometimes come up which mean taking your child to work is unavoidable. If New Zealand’s government can not just make room for a child, but also actively welcome them, then other workplaces that are in a position to accommodate children have no excuse.