During a press conference, Finland’s prime minister Sanna Marin and New Zealand’s prime minister Jacinda Ardern shot down a suggestion that they had met due to their similarity in age.
A male reporter from New Zealand radio network Newstalk ZB had raised the question about Marin’s working visit to New Zealand during a joint interview with the women leaders on Wednesday Nov. 30.
“A lot of people will be wondering are you two meeting just because you’re similar in age and got a lot of common stuff there,” he said.
Ardern, 42, quickly shut down the implication with a quick-witted response.
“My first question is whether anyone ever asked Barack Obama or [former New Zealand prime minister] John Key if they met because they’re of a similar age?,” she said. “We have of course a high percentage of men in politics, it’s reality, and because two women meet, it’s not just a matter of their gender.”
“We’re meeting because we are prime ministers,” Marin, 37, added.
The two leaders said that their bilateral meeting included meaningful discussions on several key issues including the global economic downturn, the cost of living crisis, as well as the Russian invasion of Ukraine.
“Our meeting today is a chance… [to] really leverage the economic opportunities between our two countries. It’s our job to further it, regardless of our gender,” Ardern said.
“The focus of our conversation is what more we could do together in support of other women, in other countries who are facing dire circumstances where we see the most basic of human rights being repressed and violated,” Ardern said.
“So, I think that shows a sense of responsibility that we feel given there are so few female leaders to make sure that we use our voice on behalf of those that are experiencing such dire circumstances and Iran is a good example of that,” she added.
In 2018, Ardern became the first world leader to ever take maternity leave while in office.
Marin, meanwhile, was elected as the world’s youngest state leader in 2019 when she was 34.
This is the first time a Finnish prime minister has ever visited New Zealand and also marks Marin’s first official tour. The next leg of journey will take her to Australia on Dec. 1.