A United Nations tribute to Nelson Mandela may have drawn the youngest General Assembly member ever when the New Zealand prime minister's 3-month-old daughter occupied a front-row seat, complete with a U.N. identification badge.
Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern, mother of little Neve, spoke Monday at the assembly's Nelson Mandela Peace Summit. Neve watched, although not too attentively, from the arms of her father, New Zealand TV show host Clarke Gayford.
Gayford said staffers even fashioned an ID badge for Neve.
"I wish I could have captured the startled look on a Japanese delegation inside UN yesterday who walked into a meeting room in the middle of a nappy change," Gayford tweeted. "Great yarn for her 21st."
After Ardern spoke, she took the reins of little Neve. Photos of the happy fam lit up social media and drew accolades from some
Samantha Power, former US Ambassador to the UN under President Barack Obama, tweeted that "I cannot stress how much the @UN - and the governments that comprise it - need this."
UN spokesman Stephane Dujarric said Neve was more than welcome to the event.
“Prime Minister Ardern is showing that no one is better qualified to represent her country than a working mother," Dujarric told Reuters. "Just 5 percent of the world’s leaders are women, so we need to make them as welcome here as possible."
Ardern is only the second woman to have a baby while holding the highest office of her country – Benazir Bhutto gave birth in 1990 while serving as prime minister of Pakistan. Ardern took six weeks off after Neve's birth, leaving the duties of running the nation of 4.7 million people to Deputy Prime Minister Winston Peters.
Ardern, 38, is the youngest prime minister in her nation's history and only the third woman. New rules for ministers travelling overseas allow those with a baby to take a nanny at taxpayer expense. Ardern, however, says she won't travel with Neve on the government tab.
She told the New Zealand Herald she was also paying for Gayford's travel because there were few events in New York that called for a plus-one.
"There is no spousal program for this, so we just made a judgment call that we would cover his travel for this trip," she said. "He will be going to some things, but he's primarily travelling to care for Neve."