- TitlePrime Minister
- AffiliationNew Zealand
Jacinda Ardern had already sealed her position as a great leader early in her premiership of New Zealand, by empathetically steering her country through the aftermath of a terror attack and the deadly eruption of a volcano. Then the COVID-19 pandemic struck, and Ardern targeted not just suppression of the virus, but its complete elimination. Though there have been a few scares, her strategy largely proved successful; New Zealand, a nation of nearly 5 million people, has seen fewer than 2,700 cases and only 26 deaths. Ardern and her cabinet ministers took a six-month, 20% pay cut in 2020 to show solidarity with people who had lost their livelihoods owing to the pandemic. Ardern’s party won landslide reelection in October, fueled by her star power, her straight talk, and the fact that her government’s heavy restrictions on international travel made it possible for life to continue with relative normality within New Zealand’s borders. She has also adopted world-leading climate and gender-equity policies. In March, New Zealand became the first country to require that banks, investment managers, and insurers disclose the effects of climate change on their businesses. And last year, Ardern’s administration made it easier for women to negotiate with their employers for more equitable pay.