Incoming New Zealand Prime Minister Chris Hipkins has urged men to call out misogyny and abuse of women when they see it, saying the way predecessor Jacinda Ardern was treated by some was “utterly abhorrent.”
“I think we often leave it to women to say ‘this isn’t okay and I don’t feel okay about that’ and many women don’t feel comfortable talking in that way,” Hipkins told a news conference Sunday in Wellington. “So I think we as men have a responsibility to call it out when we see it and to say that it’s not okay.”
Ardern has said that the abuse she endured as prime minister didn’t play a role in her shock resignation last week, citing instead a lack of energy after five grueling years leading the country through crisis after crisis. However, former prime minister Helen Clark said Ardern faced an unprecedented level of hatred and vitriol.
While Ardern became a torch-bearer for liberal values on the global stage during her five years as prime minister, giving birth in office and promoting empathetic leadership, she was also a target for misogyny and personal attacks as some objected to her strict social restrictions to battle Covid-19.
Anti-government protesters often brandished placards calling her things such as “Jabcinda” and “a pretty communist,” and she received increasing numbers of threats from the public.
Hipkins paid tribute to Ardern Sunday, saying she was one of New Zealand’s great prime ministers who gave a voice to those often overlooked in challenging times.
“Jacinda’s leadership has been an inspiration to women and girls everywhere,” he said. “But it’s also been a reminder that we’ve got a way to go when it comes to ensuring that women in leadership receive the same respect as their male counterparts.”
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