Jacinda Ardern

by Sheryl Sandberg
Su Liang—Xinhua/eyevine/Redux

Just 11 countries out of almost 200 are led by a woman. Let that number sink in. That’s how hard it is for a woman to rise to lead a nation.

Last October in New Zealand, Jacinda Ardern did it.

She was already a political prodigy. In 2008, she was elected the youngest member of the New Zealand Parliament. Now she’s the youngest female Prime Minister in the world. At a time when conservative politicians are ascendant across Europe and the U.S., she’s proudly progressive—with a raft of plans to fight economic inequality, address climate change and decriminalize abortion. She wasn’t supposed to win: she entered the election late, and her party’s approval ratings were low. Then a wave of “Jacindamania” swept the land.

And she’s expecting her first child this year.

In a world that too often tells women to stay small, keep quiet—and that we can’t have both motherhood and a career—Jacinda Ardern proves how wrong and outdated those notions of womanhood are. She’s not just leading a country. She’s changing the game. And women and girls around the world will be the better for it.

Sandberg is the COO of Facebook and author of Option B and Lean In

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