Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern says she's been sexually harassed on multiple occasions

Jacinda Ardern being interviewed by the BBC
Jacinda Ardern. Photo credit: BBC

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern has admitted she has experienced sexual harassment in multiple workplaces, an experience she believes she shares with all women.

Speaking to BBC journalist Victoria Derbyshire on Tuesday (NZ Time), Ms Ardern discussed the verbal abuse she had experienced as a politician, such as being called "lipstick on a pig" by The Opportunities Party leader Gareth Morgan.

While Ms Ardern said those kinds of insults reflect "old politics as usual", "in terms of the gendered nature, New Zealand relative to others, we do fairly well".

"I am the third female Prime Minister. Those previous Prime Ministers have carved a path for me that I am incredibly grateful for."

But she did note there were still elements of sexism in the New Zealand political sphere as well as in other workplaces, and admitted she had been sexually harassed on multiple occasions as an employee.

"For me it's more about the status as an employee in the past, yeah I have experienced it, but actually in multiple workplaces."

Not wanting to delve into the details of her experiences, Ms Ardern said it wasn't about her as individual, but about the "movement", believing many other women from different industries and workplaces would have also been sexually harassed.

"Show me a woman it hasn't happened to and then let's start a conversation about how that has been possible for them, because we need to create an environment where all women are free from those experiences," she told the BBC.

"This is not about one place of work, it's not about Hollywood, it's not about just politics."

Ms Ardern also spoke on the difficulties of balancing her work with being a mother.

She explained that she is "a mother, not a superwoman" and that the perception that the latter is true "does a disservice to all women, it raises expectations that no one can meet".