NZ Leader Calls Pregnancy Questions 'Unacceptable'

Youngest-ever Labour leader grilled about plans to start family
By Michael Harthorne,  Newser Staff
Posted Aug 2, 2017 3:47 PM CDT
NZ Leader Calls Pregnancy Questions 'Unacceptable'
New Zealand Labour Party leader Jacinda Ardern, center, answers questions from reporters on Tuesday, Aug. 1, 2017, in Wellington, New Zealand.   (AP Photo/Nick Perry)

The newest leader of New Zealand's Labour Party says it's "totally unacceptable" for women to be grilled in the workplace over whether or not they plan to have children after she faced similar questioning during multiple interviews in her first two days on the job. The BBC reports 37-year-old Jacinda Ardern was elected leader of the Labour Party on Tuesday, becoming the second woman and youngest person to hold the position. Ardern has in the past talked about how she has to think hard about career choices because of her desire to have children. She addressed the issue again during an interview Tuesday and didn't seem fazed by it, but during a second interview Wednesday she fought back against such questioning.

"If you are the employer of a company you need to know that type of thing from the woman," The AM Show host Mark Richardson said during that interview, adding it's a "legitimate question" for Ardern if she plans on becoming prime minister, the New York Times reports. "It is totally unacceptable in 2017 to say that women should have to answer that question in the workplace," Ardern responded, pointing out that discriminating against potential hires based on pregnancy or plans to become pregnant has been illegal in New Zealand for decades. "It is a woman's decision about when they choose to have children," CNN quotes Ardern as saying. "It should not predetermine whether they should have a job." Richardson's questioning drew scorn from around New Zealand, with both current and past prime ministers condemning it and speaking up for Ardern's right to privacy. (Read more New Zealand stories.)

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