Jacinda Ardern and Sanna Marin have hit back at a journalist’s suggestion they arranged a meeting because they are both young leaders. The prime ministers of New Zealand and Finland held a press conference in Auckland following their first face-to-face talks.
A male journalist from New Zealand radio network Newstalk ZB asked about the reason for the meeting.
He said: “A lot of people will be wondering are you two meeting just because you’re similar in age and got a lot of common stuff there.
“Or can Kiwis actually expect to see more deals between our two countries down the line?”
Ms Marin, 37, the first Finnish PM to visit New Zealand, replied: “We’re meeting because we are prime ministers.”
Ms Ardern, 42, added: “I wonder whether or not anyone ever asked Barack Obama and John Key if they met because they were of similar age.
The former US president Barack Obama and former New Zealand PM John Key were both born in August 1961.
Ms Adern said: “We, of course, have a higher proportion of men in politics — it’s reality.
“Because two women meet, it is not simply because of their gender.”
Ms Adern pointed out the trade relations between New Zealand and Finland.
She said: “Our meeting today is a chance… to really leverage the economic opportunities between our two countries.
“It’s our job to further it, regardless of our gender.”
During their bilateral meeting, Ms ardern and Ms Marin discussed the global economic downturn, the cost of living, Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and recent protests in Iran.
The journalist’s question sparked a backlash on Twitter with some users branding it sexist.
New Zealand journalist Ben McKay said Ms Ardern’s response was a “complete killshot”.
It comes after Ms Marin hit the headlines four months ago when images emerged of her partying, sparking criticism which some claimed was sexist.
At the time, Ms Ardern suggested the reaction against Ms Marin over the pictures had been too harsh.