Finland's Prime Minister Sanna Marin (SDP) met her New Zealand counterpart Jacinda Ardern on Wednesday during the first official visit by a Finnish premier to the country, with the two leaders facing a question about age and gender from the media.
"We’re meeting because we are prime ministers,” Marin said in response to one reporter's question which suggested that the summit between the two leaders had been arranged solely because they were both young women and had a "lot of common stuff".
"We have a business delegation with us," Marin continued. "We have a lot of things in common, but also a lot of things where we can do much more together."
Ardern was also quick to dismiss the suggestion.
"We, of course, have a higher proportion of men in politics, it's the reality. Because two women meet it's not simply because of their gender," the New Zealand PM said.
Ardern added that the two prime ministers were aware of the responsibility they have, as female leaders, to women across the world who face their basic human rights "being repressed and violated", citing Iran as one example of such "dire circumstances".
Marin noted that the two leaders had discussed the issue of equality and wanted “to make sure every woman and girl all across the world will have the same rights and the same opportunities as men”.
The exchange has attracted the attention of international media outlets, with US network CNN (siirryt toiseen palveluun) and London newspaper The Guardian (siirryt toiseen palveluun) — among others — both reporting on the leaders' replies to the age and gender question.
The press conference at Government House in Auckland followed a bilateral meeting between the two leaders that included discussions about common values shared by Finland and New Zealand, according to a press release by the Finnish government.
"One of the most important themes of the discussion was defending universal human rights, democracy and gender equality, which is now even more topical as these achievements face challenges internationally," the press statement said.
In response to a media question during the Wednesday afternoon press conference about Russia's invasion of and ongoing war in Ukraine, Ardern noted that the conflict is "literally on Finland’s doorstep."
"I appreciated the prime minister’s insightful perspectives on the war, and of course, the enduring impact it may have on Europe and global security," she replied.
Marin is currently on a five-day official visit to New Zealand and Australia, and is scheduled to meet with Australian Prime Minister Anthony Albanese in Sydney on Friday.
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