To most, 11 October felt like any other day in the Welsh Government. The press had taken their seats for the regular briefing, awaiting important updates from the First Minister of Wales.

But instead of Mark Drakeford appearing, who has held the top political post in Wales since 2018, out came a 16-year-old school pupil to get things underway.

No, this wasn’t the result of any mix up. For one day only, Wales had a brand new First Minister: 16-year-old Jaime, from Barry, South Wales.

Jaime was appointed into her new role to celebrate the 10th anniversary of the UN’s International Day of the Girl, which is observed annually on 11 October. The occasion, which strives to highlight gender inequality in society, sees young women all around the world stepping into positions of power, providing them with a platform to shine a spotlight on the barriers and challenges facing girls today.

Alongside opening the Welsh Government’s weekly press conference, Jaime, who – when not running the country – is working towards her A Levels and is involved with a youth group organising projects championing equality, also had the chance to participate in a meeting about hate crime with Minister for Social Justice, Jane Hutt, as part of her day heading up the government.

A man and a woman smiling at the camera.
Two women sat on a table looking at papers.
First Minister Mark Drakeford and Minister for Social Justice Jane Hutt meet 16-year-old Jaime as part of her day heading up the government

Later, the teenage First Minister listened in on First Minister’s Questions in the Senedd, before taking part in an event to celebrate Wales’ recent, historic, qualification for the World Cup.

Speaking ahead of her short stint running the country, Jaime said, “I look forward to taking part in the Girl’s Takeover to show the importance of seeing girls in powerful leadership roles, which I think is so important if we are going to achieve true gender equality.”

In scenes rarely seen in politics, Mark Drakeford had nothing but praise for his 'replacement', saying, “I’m sure I’ll learn a lot from First Minister Jaime as she steps into my shoes for the day.”

“I hope girls across Wales see what Jaime does today and are inspired to become our leaders of the future,” he added.

The UN initiative takes place in countries all over the world, with young girls having temporarily taken on the role of president of Peru, prime minister of Timor-Leste, and the European Union ambassador to Egypt, among many others, during the last 10 years.

The Welsh Government is committed to being a Feminist Government, with more than half of the roles in Cabinet currently filled by women. Creating a more equal Wales also forms one of the seven well-being goals set out in the country’s groundbreaking Future Generations Act.

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