Inspirational Female Leader 2020 Winner: Jacinda Arden – The Leader of our Time

Inspirational Female Leader 2020 Winner: Jacinda Arden - The Leader of our Time

Inspirational female leaders of 2020 - Jacinda Arden - Why she's the leader for our times

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Inspirational Female Leader 2020 Winner

Whilst all the women on the list have been shining examples of inspiration, 2020 really belongs to Prime Minister Jacinda Arden

Arden is, without a doubt, the leader for our times. Her landslide win and control of the pandemic, threw her into the global spotlight last year and is a symbol of hope and leadership the world needs. 

There are so many incredible examples of Jacinda’s work and compassion that it’s hard to pick and choose. 

A roundup of the nominees 

Damilola Ddufuwa and Odunayo Eweniyi, equal rights advocates

In July 2020, Feminist Coalition was founded by Damilola Odufuwa and Odunayo Eweniyi. They came together to create a coalition of feminist women who fight for all people in Nigeria who experience inequality and deception in their everyday lives. 

In October 2020, a series of mass peaceful protests took place in Nigeria in response to police brutality. The two women created the hashtag and slogan “End SARS” to bring more awareness to the issue.

HM The Queen – Royal resilience and hope

2020 saw Queen Elizabeth make several rare TV messages. Despite a bumpy year for the Royal family, in her 2020 Christmas speech, the overarching message of hope carried through. Her address focused on acts of empathy and kindness that have brought people together in the face of a global pandemic. 

She made a rare public address when cases started spiralling in the UK. “I am speaking to you at what I know is an increasingly challenging time. A time of disruption in the life of our country: a disruption that has brought grief to some, financial difficulties to many, and enormous changes to the daily lives of us all,” she said. 

Maia Sandu: ‘Deadly threat’

Maia Sandu, at the age of 48, has been elected as Moldova’s first female leader after a run-off with pro-Russia Igor Dodon, who got 42.2% of the vote.

On 24 December 2020, Maia Sandu made history when she took the office as state president projecting a pro-E.U. and anti-corruption platform. 

She decided to stay committed to her purpose of repairing a corrupt system in her country.

Activist Bilkis Dadi – the 82-year-old symbol of resistance and hope

The Indian activist who became the face of the protests against the Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) and National Register of Citizens, which rocked the country.

Bilkis Dadi was at the forefront of the Shaheen Bagh protests in Delhi and sat with hundreds of women under a tent at the anti-CAA/NRC sit-in protest for over three months. 

“Women should feel empowered to step out of their homes and raise their voice, especially against injustice. If they don’t leave their homes, how will they showcase their strength?” Dadi said. 

Klementyna Suchanow – The Polish Resistance Symbol

Klementyna Suchanow is  the resistance symbol of Poland. 

As featured on Vogue’s 12 Women Leaders That Changed The World In 2020 list, Klementyna Suchanow belongs to a new generation of women, who are leaders of massive protests.

Suchanow was one of the organisers of many strike actions in Poland in which the democratic system is corrupted.

Dolly Parton – legendary singer and philanthropist 

Dolly Parton, the legendary singer, songwriter, feminist idol and as of 2020, coronavirus vaccine sponsor.

Her $1 million donation to Covid-19 research was partly used to fund Moderna’s Covid-19 vaccine – currently one of two vaccines being used in the United States.

“Her work made it possible to expedite the science behind the testing,” Abumrad, 76, said. “Without a doubt in my mind, her funding made the research toward the vaccine go 10 times faster than it would be without it.”

Kamala Harris Vice President

Kamala Harris represents the dawn of a new age of political power. In 2020 she became the first female, first black and first south asian vice president elect. 

Vice President Harris gave an incredibly inspiring speech when she was elected and worked through the Trump era- in the trenches and the halls of the Democratic party. 

There’s little doubt she’ll be back on 2021’s Most Inspirational list. 

Good luck VP Harris!

Jacinda Arden – the leader of our times

There have been several key defining moments in Jacinda Arden’s political career that have launched her into the minds and hearts of many. 

Her handling of the Covid-19 pandemic is perhaps what launched her into global attention. Whilst other countries remained indecisive over the pandemic, Arden acted quickly and firmly. Arden remained consistent and direct about her strategy and has shown her authenticity when expressing her concerns. 

Her passion for protecting the planet, her handling of the Christchurch shooting and so many more – Jacinda Arden is the leader the world needs right now. 

She brought so many vaccines for New Zealand, she gave them away to other countries for free. 

Greta Thunberg – ‘ How Dare You !’

Greta Thunberg is a true inspiration, an activist, a fighter and still only a teenager. She rose to fame with her speech Greta Thunberg ‘how dare you’.

Greta Thunberg is internationally known for challenging the world’s greatest leaders. Thunberg is a colossus and yet still only a teenager. She has become the number one advocate for climate change. Out there demonstrating, speaking in front of global leaders and screaming about the climate emergency and how the abuse to mother nature needs to stop. Greta Thunberg has reenergized the global environmental movement.

Sheikh Hasina Wajed – Leader of Bangladesh

Sheikh Wajed made the list because of longevity. She has been defiant against the male-dominated Bangladeshi country. 

Sheikh Hasina Wajed is one of the most famous female leaders in history. She is the longest-serving prime minister in the history of Bangladesh and is currently serving her fourth term. Hasina plans to focus on issues such as food security and access to education and healthcare.

Despite the country’s obvious adversity to female leaders, under her stewardship, the economy has grown steadily, despite the political disorder which defines 3rd world political systems.

What makes a woman inspirational? A look at why Jacinda tops the list

Jacinda Arden victory speech

“New Zealand has shown the Labour Party its greatest support in almost 50 years. We will not take your support for granted. And I can promise you we will be a party that governs for every New Zealander.” Watch here

Jacinda Arden achievements

  • Arden set new norms as a world leader when she gave birth, took six weeks of maternity leave and shared that her partner will be a stay-at-home dad. 
  • She rose to power on a tide of “Jacindamanai” – at 38 she became the youngest female leader in the world and NZ’s youngest PM in 150 years.
  • She won a landslide victory for her second term in October 2020. 
  • Arden and her Labour Party promise an “empathetic” government with ambitious plans to tackle climate change and child poverty. 
  • Global praise for her incredible handling of the Covid-19 pandemic. New Zealand eliminated the virus in both waves. 
  • A recent poll found Arden is the country’s most popular leader in 100 years. Almost 92 per cent of respondents say they support the measures she has implemented. 

Jacinda Arden leader for our times


There have been several key defining moments in Jacinda’s political career that have launched her into the minds and hearts of many. 

Her handling of the Covid-19 pandemic is perhaps what launched her into global attention. Whilst other countries remained indecisive over the pandemic, Arden acted quickly and firmly. Arden remained consistent and direct about her strategy and has shown her authenticity when expressing her concerns. 

Christchurch shootings

Another key moment in Jacinda Arden’s term as prime minister was the horrific terrorist attack on the Muslim community in which 51 people died.  

“They are us,” she said of the victims. “New Zealand has been chosen because it was safe, because it was no place for hatred or racism. Because we represent diversity, kindness, compassion, home for those who share our values. Refuge for those who need it,” she said at a press conference. 

Then, addressing the shooter, she said: “You may have chosen us – we utterly reject and condemn you.” Her next move? She immediately implemented tighter gun laws across the nation.

Jacinda Ardern family

Jacinda and her partner Clarke Gayford welcomed their first child in 2018. Jacinda became the first head of government to give birth in office since Benazir Bhutto. Arden became the world’s first leader to take maternity leave whilst in office. 

Before becoming a mother, Arden once shut down a TV host who asked her whether a woman still had to choose between a career or a family. 

She replied: “[That is] totally unacceptable in 2017 to say that women should have to answer that question in the workplace.”

Her government also passed a bill to extend paid parental leave policies from 18 to 22 weeks in New Zealand.

Her passion for climate change

“We’re small, and our contribution to the global emissions profile is even smaller, but we are surrounded by island nations who will feel the brunt of climate change acutely,” she has said of New Zealand’s role in the global battle against the climate crisis. “I see ourselves as having a responsibility to demonstrate that we can and we will lead the charge.”

In 2018, she set out her plan to ban single-use plastic bags throughout the country, with retailers facing fines of $65,000 (£33,000) if they failed to do so. Why? Because she had received so many letters from school children about the issue, she knew she needed to act.

What is a strong woman quote?

“Even the ugliest of viruses can exist in places they are not welcome. Racism exists, but it is not welcome here. Because we are not immune to the viruses of hate, of fear, of others. We never have been. But we can be the nation that discovers the cure.” Jacinda Arden on racism. 

Jacinda Arden compassion after Christchurch Covid-19 female leaders

Jacinda Arden is recognized globally

jacinda ardern leadership style


“There are many factors which demonstrate that Jacinda Ardern is a great leader, but from a human rights perspective, it was her masterful handling of the Christchurch shootings which really stood out. Around the world – from Brazil, India, Turkey, to even the USA and the UK – we have seen the rise of nationalism and populism. Nationalist and populist rhetoric typically comes at the expense of minorities and the already disenfranchised, be that on grounds of gender, faith, race, caste, or sexuality, within those countries.”

“When faced with a white supremacist attack on New Zealand’s Muslim community, Jacinda Ardern preached social cohesion and solidarity. Following Jacinda Ardern’s lead, the people of New Zealand stood side by side with the victims of the atrocity. Demonstrating decisiveness, empathy and understanding Jacinda Ardern initiated a healing process following the shootings. She managed to bring New Zealand together at what could have been a hugely divisive moment for the country,” shares human rights activist Philip Baldwin.

‘We’ not ‘I’

“Watching her acceptance speech, it is clear that she embraces leadership differently from most of her national and international counterparts. She uses ‘we’ much more often than she uses ‘I’. She talks about the people that she is lucky to work with and those she serves, thus embodying a more servant leadership style than the usual individualistic authoritarian leader. And she talks about a country for all its citizens, not just for certain groups whose support she courts,” Collins continues.

She appears to be genuine

“The rhetoric is different, but the really big difference I see in her is that she seems to actually mean everything she says. That authenticity is rare in national leaders and that, to me, is why she has achieved this huge success,” Collins concludes.

 She’s a PR powerhouse

“The fact she’s a PR powerhouse undoubtedly helps. She studied PR alongside politics at university. This means she’ll be acutely aware that every word is under scrutiny. However, it’s very hard to fake the tenets she does her job by, which are authenticity, empathy and kindness,” explains Emily Garnham, founder of PR firm Tartle Media.

Modern approach in old politics

“Ardern takes a thoroughly modern approach to leadership in a world where her peers still tout the old. These old habits include showing strength, never admitting mistakes, and, if backed into a corner, distracting the press with another story.”

“On a political stage where her peers include Donald Trump – the opposite of empathetic – it’s really not hard to see why Jacinda Ardern is such a breath of fresh air. Even some of her domestic critics are enjoying the world’s attention being on New Zealand,” Garnham continues.

Acknowledges her weaknesses 

“From afar, Jacinda Arden appears aware of her strengths, but also in acknowledgement of her weaknesses. No-one had any idea how to handle the COVID-19 pandemic. She took the advice of the epidemiologists quickly. Then, she acted decisively and seems to have done well in keeping New Zealand relatively COVID free,” explains women’s empowerment expert Suzanne Pool.

When she acts, she acts quickly

“In a crisis—and she’s dealt with many—Arden has shown that she has the ability to act quickly and robustly. She acts with compassion but also the strength to counteract the threats New Zealand faces. Further, she maintains full control of managing the crisis, rather than delegating it to members of her team,” comments Pranav Bhanot, political advisor and author of Get Me Elected.

Human approach 

“At the same time as managing any major issues, she’s managed to maintain a warm, down-to-earth and human approach to her leadership, which has clearly resonated well,” Pranav continues.

“Leaders who look like they are in control and make electors feel safe while at the same time coming across as relatable and personable appeal to voters. Arden has struck the right balance. This has resulted in her re-election with a sweeping majority. Few global politicians have been able to strike this balance in recent years,” he concludes.

She embraces diversity

Cheryl MacDonald, CEO and founder of UK-based yoga franchise YogaBellies, says: “The fact that she embraces diversity is key. She has more gay and gender-neutral people in her parliament than anywhere else in the world, which speaks volumes.”

 She’s an inspiration to many

“As a female leader myself, Jacinda has all the characteristics that I hope to embody in leading YogaBellies. She’s competent, while also showing a human side. She’s proving that caring about and supporting people shouldn’t hold you back, rather, empower you. I think she’s shaping the future of leadership both in politics and in business. I wish that we all had a Jacinda to lead us,” Cheryl concludes.

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