Helen Clark praises Jacinda Ardern and Clarke Gayford's childcare arrangements

  • 22/06/2018

Former Prime Minister Helen Clark has praised current Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern and her partner Clarke Gayford after the arrival of their baby.

Speaking to The AM Show on Friday, Ms Clark said first and foremost she wanted to congratulate the couple on their new arrival, but there's also a wider significance to the birth.

"It's very uncommon for a PM to have a baby - last time as we all know was Benazir Bhutto quite a long time ago," she said.

"Here we are in the 21st century and we have a trailblazing young female Prime Minister who's saying, 'Well, I can do this, I can be PM, I can be a mum, I've got a partner who's showing through his actions he's committed to gender equality, he's going to do his bit looking after the child.'"

Ms Clark has been vocal about Mr Gayford's decision to stay at home and look after the baby.

"I think Clarke in his way is as much a role model as Jacinda - he's got a good media career, he's got a very popular fishing show, but he's not going to be doing that show much for a while, he's got a baby to bring up," she said.

"He's saying, 'This is important to me - I want to support Jacinda, I'm right behind her in her job, this is what I can do.'

"This is just such a powerful statement about sharing roles in the family and again it's of global significance.

"Not just in our little country, women and young men the world over will look at this and say, 'Hey, that's really interesting, this speaks to me.'"

Ms Clark faced a good deal of sexism during her time as Labour leader and then Prime Minister from 1999 to 2008, including criticism over her decision not to have children. 

She believes Ms Ardern and Mr Gayford are going to make it work though, and set an example for men and women everywhere.

"I think what Jacinda would say is she would want every woman to make the sort of choice that she's been able to make."