A group of 6 ten-year olds (three boys, three girls) have noticed that there are many problems in the world, but feel and know that they can take the lead in helping to solve them. One boy and one girl, Robin and Ray, share joint leadership roles in the group as equal partners. All members of the team have total respect for each other and are highly emotionally intelligent and equally physically strong. Each one is talented in advanced maths, science, engineering and tech. Each one is gifted in gymnastics and running. They are all able to speak 6 languages fluently each (Arabic, Chinese, English, French, Russian and Spanish). They are recognisable in their all black uniform – black t-shirts, sweatshirts and gymnastics leggings, with black trainers and socks. They all receive the same pocket money every week and do the same number of hours of the same chores and other unpaid work, like shopping, washing dishes, cleaning their room, visiting their older relatives and spending time playing with younger brothers and sisters. And, of course, they all go to school.
When they are not doing their chores and homework, they are busy saving the world. A sudden bleep on their smart-watches and the kid’s committee assemble, taking the lead in responding to emergencies of global importance with politicians, world-leading medics, bankers and educational gurus: influencing the future and saving the day. Their confidence is strong, and so are they. They all have complete awareness of their own strengths and feelings and are expert communicators, sensitive to the needs of others, inspiring confidence in all around them, empowering the future leaders of tomorrow.
Story 1: A Crisis in a Country Somewhere in the World
Robin placed the last washed dish on the draining board and stepped back from the sink. He turned around to dry his hands and smiled as his younger sister, Morgan, ran up and hugged his legs. Robin hugged her back and kissed her head, tenderly. Their mother walked into the kitchen, dressed smartly in a suit, holding a briefcase under her arm – she had just got back from work in parliament as government minister for economics (it was her job to make sure everybody had enough work and money in the country, and that the country could do good business with other countries too).
‘How are you feeling, Robin? Are you over your blues yet?’ Robin’s mum asked in a soothing and understanding voice. Robin had been a little sad because he hadn’t done as well as he had hoped in a tech competition at school.
‘Yeah, I’m good mum, thanks. I just felt a little disappointed that’s all – no-one likes to fail, do they? It’s how we respond to the failure that counts. I’ve decided to channel my downhearted spirit into my next effort, doing better next time, while I try to be happy for the person who did win!’ replied Robin, with a hopeful grin. ‘I think the important thing is to understand what I did that could have been done better in some ways, and learning from feedback from my teachers.’
‘That’s the spirit, Robin!’ cheered Robin’s mum as she walked out of the kitchen, taking off her suit jacket to change into sweatpants and drink a cool beer in front of sport on the TV. Morgan followed her mum and disappeared out of sight.
Just then, Robin’s watch bleeped and flashed. It was the signal for the Kid’s Committee to assemble. Robin ran into his bedroom, a mix of earthy colours and Amazon Rainforest inspired décor and plants, scrambling to put on his Kid’s Committee, all-black uniform: black t-shirt, sweatshirt, gymnastic leggings, socks and trainers. He was done in a flash and out of the door, running down the road to meet with the team at their usual place: the circular table by the photocopier in the 24/7 library at the end of Main Street.
It had been raining, and as normal a large puddle had formed in front of the entrance to the library. Robin jumped over it just as he would in the long jump at school. As he landed, Ray, his co-partner and fellow leader of the Kid’s Committee, fell to the ground with grace beside him, where she had ended up after vaulting over the fence between the library and her house, next door. They smiled at each other and entered the library together, greeting each other in Chinese, Arabic, English, French, Spanish and Russian, as was their good-humoured custom, because they could and they enjoyed it.
They approached their table, where their compatriots were waiting for them: the two girls, Jamie and Taylor, and the two boys, Jordan and Hayden. They were all dressed identically and chattering away in Arabic, the language spoken by people in the country they were about to go and help – a land somewhere else in the world. Robin and Ray joined in to get up to speed with the situation. Taylor briefed them.
‘It’s like this,’ began Taylor. ‘There are no women involved in politics at all really in this country: no women in parliament, only 10 women ministers, and in the last 50 years there have been no women involved in leading the country as head of state. Also, only a quarter of women there have jobs and those that work earn on average less than a third of what men earn. There are only a few women in this country who make it to being someone involved in making or enforcing the law, senior official or a manager, and not many more professional and technical workers who are female. Only half of girls can read and write and very few go to college or university – something needs to be done!”
Ray gestured to speak, “It’s true – I got the same news today. What we need to understand though is that at the moment that country is war torn and also that the people are living through very difficult times – lots of people are at risk from illness and disease such as cholera, and there is just no peace in the country – we need to think carefully about how we can help – I think our government even advises people not to travel there because you could easily get killed.”
Hayden stood up and conjured up their virtual reality planning board over the middle of the table, scribing the words ‘Action Plan’ with his finger. Poised ready to take minutes and bullet point their ideas, Hayden stood with finger hovering, ‘Ok team, what shall we do?’
Jamie lurched forwards with vigour: ‘Number 1 – get all warring parties to agree a ceasefire and install peacekeeping arrangements with troops and police as needed!’
Jordan spoke next: ‘Number 2 – get aid and medics in to ensure health and survival of all!”
Robin jumped in: ‘Number 3 – speak with the country’s leaders to help them understand why they need to have equal numbers of men and women leading their country and work with them to help them achieve that. Help them to see that their own country would do so much better because of it and they would eventually be part of a thriving global economy, currently transitioning through the Fourth Industrial Revolution.’
Taylor contributed: ‘Number 4 – open up access for equal numbers of men and women to work in law, senior positions in organisations and as managers – and make sure they are all paid the same! Change the laws that don’t protect women or that leave them disadvantaged somehow.’
Ray: ‘Number 5 – get all children, boys and girls, into school and college, empowering them and building the confidence of each and every one to work together, with respect, as leaders of tomorrow!’
Hayden drew a line with his finger under point 5 on the virtual screen and printed out a linked list of jobs at the photocopier next to where they were sitting for each of them to do in order to make their 5-point action plan work. They each looked at their list, nodding and raising eyebrows in acknowledgement of what they had to do.
‘Simples!’ said Ray. ‘We’ll meet a week today, same place and time, when we’ve accomplished the mission!’
A week later they met in the library. Jamie cartwheeled in through the window. She was the last to arrive and Taylor was doing chin ups on the monkey bars in the playground outside while they were waiting. Everyone else was sitting chatting round the table in Arabic again. Taylor jumped over the fence and ran in to join them once she saw Jamie had sat down.
Robin spoke first: ‘Well done team! And congratulations to that country, which now has equal numbers of men and women in parliament, in occupations making and enforcing the law, in positions of management and leadership in every organisation, at every level, and equal pay for similar work between males and females. Even the head of state has become a marvellous example to all and decided to do the right thing and share leadership with a woman as empowered and equal partners. It’s tremendous! There are equal numbers of men and women in employment overall too.’
Ray: ‘Perhaps more importantly for that country, after many years they have stopped fighting and there is peace inside the country and no-one at war with them from the outside either. They have all benefitted from aid and medical help, everyone is healthy and surviving now, and no-one is at risk from any major health issues.’
Jamie: ‘And all girls and boys are going to school and college, being trained in skills and knowledge equally, with leadership training and development programmes helping all. No-one is afraid of being physically hurt or treated badly, and everyone respects each other. All jobs and all careers are open to everyone, and boys and girls and men and women now take an equal share of chores at home or helping caring for children or elderly relatives. This means that everyone has the same amount of time and energy to become educated to the best of their ability and take part in work that they are capable of, without being held back. Also, girls aren’t allowed to get married and have babies so young anymore – they’ve made a law about how old they can be to do that.’
Hayden: ‘I was so happy it made me cry – after women were allowed to be in parliament, so many things changed so quickly. Now, men and women can have the same number of days parental leave from work, and the same amount of maternity and paternity leave. Men and women get the same amount of wages paid to them while they are off work during maternity and paternity leave. The government now supports and provides childcare and child allowance to parents.”
Taylor: “Now there is much improved health for everyone. There is no difference in the number of girls or boys being malnourished, having heart problems, cancer, breathing problems or other big problems. And, less mothers now die than ever while giving birth, and abortion is allowed if a woman’s health is at risk. Every pregnant mother gets a trained medic to help them in childbirth and there is excellent antenatal care for all.’
Jordan: ‘There are suddenly an equal number of male and female PhD students and STEM students. We have looked at the figures and seen that men and women are both showing that they are equally skilled in every subject, job and technical area.’
Robin: ‘What I like is that men and women are now deciding to wait until they are older before they have children, and really thinking before they have babies and planning their family well. Also, changes in the law mean that women and men both have the same legal parental rights in marriage now or even after if they get divorced too.’
Ray: ‘And, men and women both have equal rights and access to bank accounts and financial services, daughters have the same inheritance rights as boys, and women can own, control and use land and other non-land assets equally with men now.’
Jamie: ‘Also, equal numbers of men and women are voting in elections and are standing as candidates in elections both nationally and locally.’
Ray: ‘It’s all amazing! I was so angry before about the differences between men and women, and girls and boys – everybody should have the same chances, they are both worth the same as equal human beings and they are equally capable! Girls’ and boys’ brains are the same and we have the same muscular strength until at least the teenage years if we train the same’. Ray ranted as she did 100 press-ups on the library floor to get rid of her aggressive feelings.’
Robin: ‘I’ve come over all emotional! Another triumph for the kid’s committee! I can’t wait until I’m working in my chosen career as a midwife when I’m older. I really desperately want to help women give birth safely and make sure their babies thrive and prosper.’
Ray: ‘And I can’t wait until I am running for office as Prime Minister – to continue leading our great nation forward in global synergy in equal standing with all other strong men and women all over the world!’
Jamie: ‘I’m looking forward to being in politics too! I believe strongly that our country’s policies need to keep being improved for the benefit of all, not just the few!’
Taylor: ‘It’s engineering and high tech start up entrepreneurship for me! I want to empower every man and woman to succeed in the Fourth Industrial Revolution!’
Hayden: ‘You inspire me all: I want to be a therapist and help people who have mental health problems – I want people to enjoy their lives and be happy and to help them communicate their feelings better!’
Jordan: ‘I’m going to be a make-up artist – I love creative stuff – and I am really looking forward to having a family and children when I’m in my late 20s – I think being a caring and loving father, taking a hands-on role with your children is such a privilege.’
With that, the Kid’s Committee disassembled for another week, happy and content that they had set the world to rights with gender parity once again.