New Zealand’s Ardern to address Harvard graduates
New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern is slated to be Harvard University’s 2022 commencement speaker, according to the university’s press source, The Harvard Gazette.
Harvard announced Monday that the prime minister will be the principal speaker at the school’s upcoming commencement, scheduled for May 26, where she will also be awarded an honorary degree.
“Prime Minister Ardern is one of the most respected leaders on the world stage and we are delighted she will join us in May to celebrate the Class of 2022,” said Harvard President Larry Bacow in a statement. “From climate change and gender equality to COVID-19, she has modeled compassionate leadership that has brought together empathy and science-based solutions to address the most challenging issues of our time. I very much look forward to her address.”
Recent Harvard commencement speakers include former Washington Post editor Marty Baron, former German Chancellor Angela Merkel and the late Rep. John Lewis (D-Ga.).
Ardern, who has served as New Zealand’s prime minister since 2017, is the 17th sitting world leader to speak at a Harvard commencement ceremony, according to the school.
The Gazette noted a variety of the prime minister’s accomplishments, including her response to the 2019 Christchurch shooting, after which she imposed a ban on military-style semi-automatic and assault rifles and initiated a gun buyback program, and her handling of the COVID-19 pandemic. Since the pandemic started, New Zealand — with a population of more than 5 million people — has recorded 22,330 COVID-19 infections and 53 deaths resulting from the virus, according to data from Johns Hopkins University. Roughly 80 percent of the country’s residents are fully vaccinated.
Ardern has been named to Time magazine’s 100 Most Influential People list twice and has been listed by Forbes Magazine as one of the world’s most powerful women several times, according to the Gazette. In 2021, Ardern was named the world’s greatest leader by Fortune Magazine.