Finland's PM and New Zealand's PM expertly handled a bizarre media question
Jacinda Ardern and Sanna Marin expertly deflected a reporter who asked if the leaders were meeting “because you’re similar in age and got a lot of common stuff there” during a joint press conference.
New Zealand’s prime minister and her Finnish counterpart met in Auckland to discuss trade this week – but were questioned if their encounter came down to them both being young, female leaders.
A male journalist from a New Zealand radio network, Newstalk ZB, said: “A lot of people will be wondering are you two meeting just because you’re similar in age and got a lot of common stuff there, when you got into politics and stuff, or if Kiwis can expect more details down the line?”
Ardern looked slightly perplexed and asked: ”I wonder if anyone ever asked Barack Obama and John Key if they met because they were of similar age.”
The former US president and his former New Zealand counterpart are just days apart in age, having both been born in 1961, while Marin is 37 and Ardern is 42.
Ardern continued: “We of course, have a higher proportion of men in politics, it’s reality.
“Because two women meet, it’s not simply because of their gender.”
She pointed out that Finland exports a lot of goods to New Zealand, and “there is huge potential between us”.
She also pointed out that individual nations it is “important to look for “opportunities to build on” their relationship.
“Little would be known about the depth of that relationship [between our countries], or the potential of it,” if the two of them didn’t work on it, she said, adding: “But it’s our job to further it, regardless of our gender.”
Marin then jumped in: “We are meeting because we are prime ministers, of course.”
She accepted that “we have a lot of things in common” but also “a lot of things we can do much more together”.
Marin is the first Finnish PM to visit New Zealand in an official capacity.
Aside from the global economic pressures and the ongoing war in Ukraine, the pair said they also discussed the protests in Iran led by women pushing back against their treatment from the Islamic Republic government.
Marin said: “I also worry about the situation in Iran right now... the brave women that are protesting against the laws and the security situation of women in Iran, we need to address these kind of issues together.”
The two were widely praised on social media, with one journalist describing it as a “complete killshot”.
It’s not the first time the two have been united when scrutinised.
Four months ago, Marin made international headlines after footage of her partying made it online. The PM had to apologise, and underwent a drug test amid the heavy criticism, which was also criticised for being sexist.
Ardern defended Marin at the time, saying while she does not want to get involved with another country’s “domestic political situations”, it is important to attract “people from all walks of life” into politics so they can make a “positive difference”.