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Former New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern delivered an emotional speech in parliament on Wednesday, bidding farewell to her political career and inspiring others to take up leadership roles. Ardern, who resigned from her position in January after five years in power, thanked her family, supporters, and political party for their unwavering support.

The role she “never thought” she would have

When Ardern became prime minister in 2017, she was New Zealand’s third female leader and one of the youngest leaders in the world. Within a year, she became the second world leader to give birth while in office. In her speech, Ardern shared her anxieties of feeling unprepared for the role and described her internal reluctance to lead.

Ardern’s time in power

Ardern’s term as prime minister was characterized by numerous crises, including the Christchurch terror attack in 2019, which claimed the lives of 51 people at two mosques, a deadly volcanic explosion, and the global COVID-19 pandemic. Despite the challenges, Ardern managed to steer New Zealand through difficult times and won praise for her handling of the pandemic, which resulted in one of the lowest death tolls globally.

An inspiration to others

Throughout her speech, Ardern emphasized that individuals from all backgrounds can lead, regardless of their personality traits or circumstances. She shared her personal struggles, including her fears of not being able to conceive and feeling the need to “harden up” and “change dramatically” to survive in politics. Ardern’s legacy will be remembered as a leader who empowered others to lead and made politics a more inclusive space for everyone.

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