Exclusive: New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern says overturn of Roe v. Wade shows that abortion is ‘an issue of women’s health and women’s rights’

May 25, 2022, 12:52 PM UTC
New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern speaks at an event in New York with a New Zealand trade delegation to the U.S.
Courtesy Silver Fern Farms

Good morning, Broadsheet readers! BlackRock announces the debut of gender-lens investing at Davos, Glossier founder Emily Weiss will step down as CEO, and the Broadsheet has an exclusive interview with New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern. Have a great Wednesday.

– Straight from the PM. New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern is in the U.S. for the first time in two years, traveling with a trade delegation representing New Zealand businesses. On Tuesday, the prime minister attended an event in New York City with Silver Fern Farms, a New Zealand-based meat company focused on sustainability. Speaking to attendees, Ardern said her trip reflects “the priority that we place on the United States as we reconnect with the world.” The U.S. is New Zealand’s third largest trading partner, behind China and Australia.

After she wrapped her remarks, I spoke with the prime minister, who briefly lived in Brooklyn, New York in 2005, as she headed out the door to a taping of the The Late Show With Stephen Colbert. Below is our exclusive interview for Broadsheet readers, which has been edited and condensed for clarity.

After decriminalizing abortion in New Zealand, what’s your reaction to the likely overturn of Roe v. Wade?

All I can do is reflect on what we’ve done in New Zealand. It shows our values as a government and my values. For me, this is an issue of women’s health and women’s rights.

New Zealand is a top dairy producer. Have you been able to assist the U.S. in dealing with its infant formula shortage?

Fonterra [a publicly traded New Zealand dairy co-op whose CEO joined this week’s trade delegation] is working with the U.S. to try to assist on that issue. We don’t produce enough food for the world, but what we do produce, we produce with care. It’s a product you can trust with integrity, and when we see a place in need and that we can help, we seek to do it.

New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern speaks at an event in New York with a New Zealand trade delegation to the U.S.
Courtesy Silver Fern Farms

At the beginning of your tenure as prime minister, giving birth and balancing work with a newborn was a major narrative that followed you. Has that been normalized in the years since?

I hope so. I notice that I’m still the only the only woman leader in office at the moment who’s had a child [while in office], but I’m certainly not the only member of parliament [to do so]. And so we do need to normalize it, but we need to normalize it for women everywhere—in the workplace, in the boardroom, and every day.

Your pandemic leadership placed a spotlight on the strengths of women in positions of power. Similarly, we’ve seen women leaders in Europe adeptly respond to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. What has that shown you about how women lead in crisis?

I’ve viewed the conflict with a values lens. This was a blatant breach of territorial integrity of Ukraine, and we’ll continue to call for a unified response to that conflict. We’ll always be a country that seeks a collective response through multilateral institutions like the UN. They matter to us, and it means we all have to play our part.

Any message to women leaders reading this?

Thank you to the paths you’ve carved and I hope it gets easier for other women.

We spoke yesterday afternoon, just before news broke of the mass shooting at an elementary school in Uvalde, Texas that has killed 19 children and two adults. The prime minister later commented on the shooting, reflecting on her country’s response to the 2019 massacre in Christchurch. “We saw something that wasn’t right and we acted on it,” she said during her appearance with Colbert.

Throughout the rest of the week, Ardern will head to D.C., where she’s scheduled to meet with members of the Senate (the prime minister tested positive for COVID earlier this month, and although she’s recovered, a meeting with President Joe Biden isn’t yet scheduled due to her recent infection, Bloomberg reports). Ardern is then headed to Boston, where she will give the commencement address at Harvard University; San Francisco, where she will meet with Gov. Gavin Newsom; and Seattle, where she’s scheduled to meet with executives at Amazon, Microsoft, and Twitter.

Her travels this week underscore New Zealand’s desire to foment stronger ties with the U.S. “As we move toward our economic recovery, there are two very simple messages: New Zealand is open for business,” she told the group, “and the United States is a vital friend.”

Emma Hinchliffe

The Broadsheet is Fortune’s newsletter for and about the world’s most powerful women. Today’s edition was curated by Paige McGlauflin. Subscribe here.


- Gender lens. Another Fortune exclusive this morning: BlackRock is debuting gender-lens investing for the first time. The firm has long offered ESG investing to clients, but most of the attention within ESG has gone to environmental and climate concerns, says Isabelle Mateos y Lago, global head of BlackRock's Official Institutions Group. While the firm hasn't yet announced a specific financial commitment, it plans to integrate a gender-lens approach "across a broad array of asset classes, regions, and investment styles" in partnership with UN Women. The company and the organization formalized their partnership at the World Economic Forum in Davos this morning. Fortune

- Election results. In last night's primary elections, Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp won the GOP gubernatorial primary, setting him up for a rematch with Stacey Abrams. Former Business Council of Alabama leader Katie Britt will head to a runoff for the GOP nomination for the state's open Senate seat. Alabama Gov. Kay Ivey won the GOP primary to run for another term. Democratic Rep. Lucy McBath won her primary in a bid to hold onto her seat in Congress. And, in a closely-watched Texas race, Rep. Henry Cuellar declared victory over progressive challenger Jessica Cisneros. Cisneros, however, hasn't conceded the close race. CNN

- Beauty business. Glossier founder Emily Weiss will step down as CEO, she said yesterday. The company, which Weiss founded eight years ago, recently laid off a third of its corporate workforce after moving away from a pivot into tech. Kyle Leahy, a former Cole Haan and Nike executive who joined as chief commercial officer in November, will become CEO, effective immediately. Weiss will soon be on maternity leave, but will return as executive chairwoman, continuing to work on product, marketing, and retail. The longtime direct-to-consumer brand is also planning a retail strategy shift, and will soon sell products at other retailers for the first time. Bloomberg

- Watching closely. At the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, YouTube CEO Susan Wojcicki weighed in on the potential overturn of Roe v. Wade in an interview with Fortune editor-in-chief Alyson Shontell. The Alphabet-owned video platform, she says, is taking a "wait-and-see approach" before making any major changes to content moderation, efforts to combat misinformation, or employee policies. Fortune 

MOVERS AND SHAKERS: Former White House press secretary Jen Psaki is joining MSNBC for a streaming show that’s set to debut in the beginning of 2023. Data integration provider Fivetran has appointed Julie Richardson to its board of directors. ServiceTitan has appointed Olive Huang as its general counsel and secretary of the board. Adobe creative cloud experience and engagement vice president Kakul Srivastava has joined royalty-free music marketplace Splice as CEO. Progyny has appointed Arielle Bogorad as senior vice president of employer market strategy. ViewLift has promoted Shraddha Pednekar to chief experience officer. Certarus has appointed Robin Kooyman as chief financial officer. Julie Egan has been appointed vice president of enterprise HR strategy for employer-sponsored child care provider Vivvi. Notarize has named Yung Simon as senior vice president of finance.


- Big brothers, big gift. MacKenzie Scott donated $123 million to the Big Brothers Big Sisters Foundation, according to an announcement from the youth mentoring organization on Tuesday. The donation will be used to help expand services for the 30,000 young people waiting for a mentor and to attract volunteers who are people of color, LGBTQ+, or live in rural areas, the organization said. So far, Scott has donated over $1.5 billion to 30 nonprofits in 2022, and over $12.5 billion to over 1,200 nonprofits since 2020. Chronicle of Philanthropy

- Allegations in France. Two women have accused French minister Damien Abad of raping them in 2010 and 2011. Abad said in a statement that the condition arthrogryposis, which limits his ability to move his joints, prevents his physical ability to have sex without a partner’s “full and complete consent.” Abad was recently appointed to President Emmanuel Macron’s cabinet as minister for solidarity and disabled people and is up for reelection in June. The allegations follow demands from feminist groups for Macron’s cabinet to do more to prioritize crimes against women, and reports from government watchdogs that French politicians have failed to allow victims to report accusations of sexual violence. New York Times

- Turning up the heat. Advisory firm Institutional Shareholder Services is urging shareholders at Walmart and Lowe’s to vote to require that companies report on the risks employees would face should Roe v. Wade be overturned. Walmart is based in Arkansas, one of the states with a trigger law in place outlawing abortion in the event that Roe is repealed. Lowe’s is based in North Carolina, another state expected to ramp up abortion restrictions. Bloomberg

- Back on track. Sha’Carri Richardson returned to the track this weekend in Jacksonville, Fla., clocking in 11.37 and 11.27 seconds for a pair of 100-meter runs.  The athlete, disqualified from U.S. Olympic Trials last summer due to a positive marijuana test, will compete against Jamaican runner Elaine Thompson-Harah in a 100-meter dash at the Pre Classic in Eugene, Ore. this Saturday. NBC News


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My life revolves around breastfeeding The Cut


"I think history gets so easily rewritten in the masculine form."

- Actress Julia Roberts, on her portrayal of Martha Mitchell, who is often left out of retellings of the Watergate scandal, in the TV series Gaslit. 

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