Jacinda Ardern has handled plenty of awkward situations since becoming New Zealand Prime Minister, but a BBC interview has raised eyebrows after questioning her feminist credentials.
Ms Ardern was in the UK earlier this week for meetings with her British counterpart Theresa May before heading to Switzerland for the world economic forum in Davos.
During a wide-ranging interview with the BBC’s Victoria Derbyshire, Ms Ardern discussed New Zealand’s hopes for a free trade deal with the UK and the global political landscape among other topics.
But as the interview was set to wind up, the Prime Minister was asked whether she had any plans to propose to her long-term partner Clarke Gayford, the father to their child Neve Te Aroha.
Ms Ardern appeared to be caught off guard by the turn of questioning and laughed loudly before answering: “No I would not ask, no.”
The interviewer then went on to question Ms Ardern’s reluctance, asking: “You’re a feminist?”
“Oh absolutely, absolutely I am a feminist” the Prime Minister replied.
“But no, I want to put him through the pain and torture of having to agonise about that question himself, that’s letting him off the hook, absolutely not.”
Seemingly satisfied, the interview concluded: “Ok, fair enough. We await that day.”
"I want to put [my partner] through the torture and pain of having to agonise about that question himself"
— Victoria Derbyshire (@VictoriaLIVE) January 21, 2019
Ms Ardern was also questioned about whether she experiences “guilt” as she juggles running a country and being a new mother.
The Prime Minister said while it was “sometimes a struggle”, it gave her a valuable experience that offered her an insight into how regular New Zealanders juggled their work and family responsibilities.
Social media was quick to point out that it would be unlikely a male prime minister would face the same line of questioning.
New Zealand-based political commentator Bryce Edwards told The Guardian that the question regarding Ms Ardern’s marriage status appeared to take the Prime Minister by surprise, adding it was unusual for her to have her feminist credentials questioned.
“Such a question is actually very surprising, and the prime minister’s reaction suggested that she was entirely surprised by it,” Mr Edwards was quoted as saying.
“Certainly a lot of New Zealanders would see such probing of the prime minister about her relationship with her partner and her plans for marriage as being inappropriate,” he said.