While America is still trying to elect their first female president, other countries are already lightyears ahead of us. On Jan. 19, New Zealand’s prime minister Jacinda Ardern, 37, happily announced that she’s expecting her first child with husband Clarke Gayford. “We thought 2017 was a big year!” she wrote on Twitter. “This year we’ll join the many parents who wear two hats. I’ll be PM & a mum while Clarke will be ‘first man of fishing’ & stay at home dad. There will be lots of questions (I can assure you we have a plan all ready to go!) but for now bring on 2018!”
Jacinda is proving that women really can do it all, even if “it all” includes being a mom and running an entire country —especially if they have the proper support. “I am not the first woman to multi-task, I’m not the first woman to work and have a baby,” she said, while explaining that she’s taking six months leave, during which the deputy PM will step in to lead. “I know these are special circumstances but there will be many women who will have done this well before I have.” Jacinda is right, she’s actually not the first woman to give birth while in office — read on to get seriously inspired by these powerful pregnant world leaders!
Benazir was the first modern world leader to give birth in office. She was the prime minister of Pakistan in the 80s and 90s, and she gave birth to her daughter Bakhtawar on January 25, 1990, one year into her first term. However, the rest of the government wasn’t as sympathetic to Benazir 20 years ago. She was afraid they would push her aside, so she went to the hospital incognito, and had her child early via c-section. “The next day I was back on the job, reading government papers and signing government files,” she wrote of the experience. “Only later did I learn that I was the only head of government in recorded history actually to give birth while in office. It was a defining moment, especially for young women, proving that a woman could work and have a baby in the highest and most challenging leadership positions.”
Despite her amazing accomplishments, Benazir was controversial, and she was assassinated in 2007. She was shot fatally in the neck, and then the killer blew himself up, killing 22 others at the rally. Her daughter has continued her work, joining the board of the Shaheed Zulfikar Ali Bhutto Institute of Science and Technology. “Congratulations to Prime Minister @jacindaardern on the wonderful news ?,” she tweeted at Jacinda after learning of the pregnancy.
Queen Elizabeth II
Queen Elizabeth II.
Yes, that’s right! Queen Elizabeth II became the head of state in February 1952, when her father died. At the time she already had two children: Charles, who was four, and Anna who was two. Eight years into her reign, she gave birth to Prince Andrew, and then four years later in 1964 she gave birth to Edward. She managed to do her duties with minimal interruption, however she did not attend the State Opening of the British parliament in those two years.
Many other historical women
Though not as carefully documented, several women throughout history lead while being pregnant. These women include Wilhelmina of the Netherlands, Queen Victoria, Catherine the Great, Anne, Queen of Great Britain, Mary I of England, Mary, Queen of Scots, Eleanor of Aquitaine, and Cleopatra.
It’s not impossible that one day America will join the ranks of female leaders to give birth in the Oval Office. The minimum age to be president is 35, so technically it could happen. However, the youngest president we’ve ever had was Theodore Roosevelt, who became president at 42 years of age. We can still hope!