Joanita Wibowo

"I've never seen such leadership": Oprah Winfrey praises Jacinda Ardern in stunning speech

"I've never seen such leadership": Oprah Winfrey praises Jacinda Ardern in stunning speech

Oprah Winfrey has praised Jacinda Ardern for her response to the Christchurch terror attacks.

In a keynote speech at the 10th annual Women in the World summit on Thursday, Winfrey said the New Zealand Prime Minister’s handlings of the massacre that killed 50 people last month were a display of leadership that she has “never seen”.

“I’ve never seen such leadership,” Winfrey said. “The prime minister is a woman who has such courage in her convictions and has set a global standard for leadership with her response.”

Ardern’s response to the March 15 attacks has been widely lauded as “extraordinary” and “strong”. Hours after a gunman opened fire at two mosques in Christchurch, Ardern appeared before the nation to condemn the shootings, saying that they could “only be described as a terrorist attack” and that the arrested suspect had “extremist views that have absolutely no place in New Zealand and, in fact, no place in the world”.

The following day, the 37-year-old leader visited members of the Muslim community and reportedly told them that the country was “united in grief”. During the visit, she donned a Muslim-style headscarf known as a hijab.

“People were quite surprised,” Ahmed Khan, a survivor of the attack, told CNN. “I saw people’s faces when she was wearing the hijab – there were smiles on their faces.”

Winfrey told the summit, “Women across the country then showed their solidarity by wearing headscarves to emulate the hijab that Ms Ardern chose to mourn in.

“Fifty murders that could have brought even more destruction instead lead to a portrait of the Prime Minister displayed across Dubai’s tallest building with the word ‘peace’ shining above it, in English as well as in Arabic.”

Speaking of the display of Jacinda Ardern’s image on Dubai’s Burj Khalifa skyscraper, Winfrey said, “Jacinda Ardern projected peace and goodness, and the Arab world projected it right back for all of us to take in. And suddenly we saw that the other didn't seem that much different from us.

“So here, women in the world, we have to make the choice every single day to channel our own inner Jacindas.”