Opinion: How two women showed us a glimpse of gender equality on the world stage

OPINION: Friday was a day to remember.

Two women, who grew up a world away from each other, have shown us that slowly but surely, equality could become a reality – as long as we keep supporting the front-runners.

I'm talking about gender equality – something our Prime Minister isn't afraid to speak to, and something Dr Christine Blasey Ford confronted in a sense of duty when she addressed senators at the US Capitol on Friday (NZ time).

While Jacinda Ardern demanded our respect as she addressed the United Nations on gender equality and other issues, Dr Ford made waves as she recalled what would be one of the most uncomfortable and contentious things to talk about on the global stage: sexual assault.

With "100 percent" certainty, Dr Ford was compelled to do what was right by her country, despite fierce doubt.  She wouldn't allow a man she deemed capable of doing terrible things to hide behind a shield of Christianity and rise to the top of the US Supreme Court.

There, Brett Kavanaugh would secure his place in power. The underlying knowledge that nothing could stand in his way – not even his past misdemeanours – would only fuel his arrogance, further solidifying the agonising cycle of toxic masculinity.

This cycle is what the Prime Minister alluded to in her speech to the UN General Assembly on Friday. "It seems surprising that in this modern age we have to recommit ourselves to gender equality, but we do," she said.

I couldn't help but marvel at the perfect timing of it all: while Dr Ford was showing us, yet again, that women still struggle to be taken seriously, Ms Ardern reminded the world that gender equality is an ongoing battle – one that continues to this day, despite how far we've come.

"I for one will never celebrate the gains we have made for women domestically, while internationally other women and girls experience a lack of the most basic of opportunity and dignity," Ms Ardern said. It's a stark reminder that she's a privileged woman who does not reflect the female norm.

Ms Ardern herself admits in her speech that it hasn't been all that bad for her. "As a girl I never, ever grew up believing that my gender would stand in the way of me achieving whatever I wanted to in life," she said, because "I am, after all, not the first, but the third female Prime Minister of New Zealand".

It's important to remember these days and appreciate these women who defy the odds by standing firm against a barrier of tradition and pessimism. It's a wall that relentlessly frowns down upon them in the form of men and women who don't want things to change.

The Prime Minister made New Zealand proud this week, regardless of politics. After all, she received a round of applause from UN audience members, contrasting it to a room full of laughter directed at her US counterpart.

And Ms Ardern didn't sink to his level. She didn't laugh at him, she doesn't even speak his name - she just gets on with the job, like so many women do.

Like Ms Ardern, Dr Ford looked fearless in the face of uncertainty, as she carefully recounted the day she says she was sexually assaulted as a teenager by Kavanaugh in the 1980s.

She answered every question directed to her by senators with a steady tone and quiet confidence. It was in stark contrast to the accused, who appeared angry in his resentment towards the woman disrupting his power grab.

Putting our political leanings aside, let's be proud of these women who are trying to make the world a fairer place, and support the men who aren't afraid to admire them. 

Zane Small is a digital producer for Newshub