Female PMs Asked If They're Meeting Due to 'Similar Age'

Question to Finland, New Zealand leaders slammed as sexist
By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff
Posted Nov 30, 2022 6:25 PM CST
Ardern: 'Similar Age' Wasn't Reason for Meeting Finnish PM
Finland's Prime Minister Sanna Marin, left, holds a press conference with New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern at the Auckland Museum, in Auckland, New Zealand, Wednesday, Nov. 30, 2022.   (Michael Craig/New Zealand Herald via AP)

New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern deftly shot down a sexist line of questioning after a meeting in Auckland on Wednesday with Sanna Marin, her Finnish counterpart. A male reporter from radio station Newstalk ZB told Ardern "a lot of people will be wondering, 'Are you two meeting just because you're similar in age and, you know, got a lot of common stuff there?'" Or, he asked, can New Zealanders "actually expect to see more deals" between the countries? Ardern is 42 and Marin 37. The Washington Post reports that Ardern looked "slightly incredulous" as she replied: "I wonder whether or not anyone ever asked Barack Obama and John Key if they met because they were of similar age." Obama and Key, a former New Zealand prime minister, were born five days apart in 1961.

"We of course have a higher proportion of men in politics, it’s reality," Ardern added. "Because two women meet, it’s not simply because of their gender." Marin said, "We are meeting because we're prime ministers." The two leaders said they discussed economic and diplomatic issues, including their support for Ukraine and Finland's desire to move away from reliance on authoritarian regimes. Both leaders noted their countries' shared values, with Marin saying "Finland and New Zealand count among the oldest democracies in the world." Marin is the first Finnish prime minister to visit New Zealand, the BBC reports. She plans to travel to Australia later in the week.

The reporter's question was widely condemned as sexist, NPR reports. "He was one sentence away from asking the prime ministers if they met to talk about boys and if their periods have synced up yet," tweeted journalist Robyn Davidson. Another reporter asked Marin about her reputation as a "party prime minister" after videos emerged of her dancing at a private party. "During our governmental period, there has been the global pandemic, there's war now in Europe, there's an energy crisis, perhaps an economic crisis in front of us," she said. "So there are many things on my plate that are more concerning than my free time." (More Jacinda Ardern stories.)

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