Kids can be really inventive when it comes to dreaming up what they want to be when they grow up. (If you've ever spoken to an ambitious 5-year-old, you'll know they're not only eager, but bullish about doing things their own way.)
So, in many ways, the groundswell of efforts over the last few years championing diversity, inclusion, and representation tie back to the idea that enabling children to make good on their dreams starts with showing them examples of people like them doing what they aspire to do. (Not to mention, giving them the necessary tools and support to start and keep going.)
Television is a huge part of many people's lives, and it can be a powerful medium that gives people ideas about what is possible from a very young age. With that in mind, consumer goods company Procter & Gamble (P&G) and Sesame Workshop, the educational nonprofit behind Sesame Street, have teamed up on a new campaign to help children see what they want to be. The campaign launches tomorrow, Tuesday, September 18 at the Global Citizen: Movement Makers Summit with a video in which children from around the world (and Sesame Street Muppets) share their dreams and what they think it takes to get achieve them.
"To be a detective, you have to be clever and study hard," says one little boy, while another shares that he wants to be a ballet dancer.
One girl is on a mission to claim all the jobs (her career path includes police officer, firefighter, pastry chef, photographer, and lawyer), and other kids in the video dream of being a pilot, teacher, computer scientist, and even a highly specific profession — a fish doctor.
Not to be forgotten, one Muppet says their first task is to "go to school like my big sister, Zari."
"Gender equity is a core element of Sesame Workshop’s global productions," Sherrie Westin, the executive vice president for global impact at Sesame Workshop, said in a press release. "Our international girl Muppets are powerful role models for young girls, helping them envision possibilities they may not have dreamed possible, and, of equal importance, modeling for boys the importance of girls going to school — planting the seeds for societal change."
Westin noted that research from Sesame Workshop has shown that boys who watch the local version of Sesame Street in Afghanistan test 29% higher on gender equity attitudes, and in some cases, fathers who watched decided to send their daughters to school. Currently, about 40% of Afghan students are girls. (Globally, about 130 million girls remain out of school.)
What is notable about the video, however, is that it isn't solely focused on the girls alone. As mentioned, a fair share of boys have dreams of their own, and are encouraged to actively envision them in the video.
"Sesame has a long history of promoting gender equality and diversity through its programming, and the impact their content has on social norms and attitudes is undeniable," Carolyn Tastad, P&G Group President, North America, told Refinery29. "We are proud to work with Sesame to spark conversations that can motivate change. We want to set a new expectation that values girls' education so that boys and girls can reach their full potential."
Westin adds that giving a platform to all children was intentional, because "planting the seeds for societal changes" required giving both boys and girls an understanding of the value of education.
"This is not a zero-sum game," she continues. "We want both boys and girls to have the opportunities to pursue their dreams. It's not at the exclusion of boys at all. It's to make sure that girls have the same opportunity."
The campaign will run through next month, until the International Day of the Girl on October 11, and will appear on social media as well as on some of Sesame Street's network channels around the globe.