A New Zealand politician has slapped down a male radio host for insisting the country has a right to know her pregnancy plans, labelling the question "totally unacceptable" in 2017.
On Tuesday 37-year old Jacinda Ardern became the New Zealand Labour Party's youngest ever leader, following the resignation of Andrew Little.
In an interview on The AM Show, on her second day as opposition leader, Ardern was asked by host Mark Richardson whether she plans on becoming a mother during her time in parliament.
"I think this is a legitimate question for New Zealand, because she could be the prime minister running this country – she has our best interests at heart, so we need to know these things," he said.
Richardson, a former test cricketer who has spoken on The AM Show about his struggles in starting a family, said employers should be allowed to ask women when they planned to get pregnant before hiring them.
"If you are the employer of a company, you need to know that type of thing from the woman you are employing ... the question is, is it OK for a PM to take maternity leave while in office?" Richardson asked.
Without hesitation, Ardern snapped back that the radio host's question was out of line.
"For other women, it is totally unacceptable in 2017 to say that women should have to answer that question in the workplace," she said, pointing at Richardson.
"That is unacceptable in 2017. It is a woman's decision about when they choose to have children and should not predetermine whether or not they are given a job or have got opportunities."
Ardern said she was, in fact, happy to answer questions about her plans to start a family, as she'd chosen to talk about it publicly in the past – however she drew the line at other women being asked.
"I totally accept that I will be asked that question, because I chose to be honest about it," she said.
"I think a lot of women face this dilemma in the workplace no matter what their professional job might be...they face this issue all the time, I am not on my own there.
"Would you ask a man if they are likely to have kids in the future?"
Richardson replied, "Yes".
This isn't the first time Ardern's been asked about her parental plans.
During an appearance on the NZ version of TV show The Project hours after becoming leader, Ardern was asked whether she had decided to sacrifice having a family to focus on her career.
"For me, my position is no different to the woman who works three jobs, or who might be in a position where they are juggling lots of responsibilities," she replied.
"You've just got to take every day as it comes and try and see if you can make the best of the lot you're given.
"So I'm not pre-determining any of that, just like most of the women out here who just make their lives work."
Ardern's stoic response to repeated pregnancy questions, deemed by some media commentators as sexist, has inspired fans online.
Despite the whirlwind of media attention, Ardern is unlikely to lead her party to a win at next month's New Zealand election, with the governing National Party polling at 45% to Labour's 24%.
Meanwhile, an NZ poll asked if it was appropriate to question Ardern on her plans to start a family. Of more than 7,000 respondents, more than 70% voted "No".
Alice Workman is a political reporter for BuzzFeed News and is based in Canberra.
Contact Alice Workman at email@example.com.
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