Leaders of New Zealand and Finland shoot down question on age and gender

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AUCKLAND: The leaders of New Zealand and Finland on Wednesday (Nov 30) shot down a question on age and gender during a joint news conference in Auckland.

Both New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern and her Finnish counterpart Sanna Marin are two of the youngest heads of government and among a small percentage of female world leaders.

They had been taking questions from the media when a journalist asked about the purpose of the first-ever visit to New Zealand by a Finnish prime minister.

“A lot of people will be wondering are you two meeting just because you’re similar in age and, you know, got a lot of common stuff there,” asked Joey Dwyer from Newstalk ZB.

Ardern, 42, was quick to cut off the question. 

“I wonder whether or not anyone ever asked Barack Obama and John Key if they met because they were of similar age,” she said, in reference to the former prime ministers of New Zealand and the United States.

“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.”

Marin, 37, who is in New Zealand with a Finnish trade delegation, emphasised the country’s growing trade ties.

“We are meeting because we are prime ministers,” she said in response.

She ends her visit to the southern hemisphere in Australia later this week.

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