Jacinda Ardern has appeared on the cover of Time magazine ahead of the anniversary of the Christchurch mosque shootings, in which 51 people were killed by a gunman.
New Zealand’s prime minister was praised for her empathetic leadership following the mass shooting, which occurred on 15 March. The trial of the accused is set for June.
Following the country’s largest terror event in modern history, Ardern donned a hijab and spoke out forcefully against racism and division, repeating the phrase: “they are us”, which began a catch cry of solidarity with the country’s Muslim community. Ardern has also refused to speak the accused’s name – a gesture many have adopted in New Zealand.
The cover of the international edition of Time features the quote “Know us by our deeds”, taken from the prime minister’s recent address at the Big Gay Out, an LGBT festival she has attended for more than a decade, while the headline pointedly asks: “Jacinda Ardern Has the World’s Attention. How Will She Use It?”
In the profile, author Belinda Luscombe describes Ardern as a “millennial woman” and writes of the prime minister: “Ardern’s real gift is her ability to articulate a form of leadership that embodies strength and sanity, while also pushing an agenda of compassion and community”, adding that Ardern has “infused New Zealand with a new kind of soft power” and doesn’t have to request meetings with world leaders anymore, they are now lining up to be associated with her.
“Now her challenge is to prove this new style of leadership can get meaningful results,” Luscombe writes, touching on some of the Labour Coalition’s challenges, such as the housing crisis and child poverty.
With the general election just seven months away, Luscombe asks Ardern what her plans are if she doesn’t win.
“Absolutely zero plan B.” Ardern said. “But actually that’s not new … that’s always been my way of being. It’s probably how I’ve ended up in politics.”
Ardern has also graced the cover of Vogue, among others, and been the subject of numerous glossy profiles. She has also twice been named on Time’s annual list of the world’s most influential people.
Her international popularity has sparked a small-scale backlash back home, with some people turning over covers of magazines featuring Ardern as a form of protest, saying they want their leader to put more of her focus on domestic problems, rather than international publicity.
Ardern has not commented on the protest.
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