INTRODUCTION to project proposal “WHERE CAN CAIRO’S CHILDREN PLAY?”
Cairo is one of the world’s densest cities, (greater) Cairo inhabiting around 19 million people, of which around 32% - 6 million - is under 14. Public space is limited. Spaces open to public without entrance fees are hard to find in Cairo, let alone green spaces. The majority of public space has been privatized. True public spaces specially serving the needs of children are simply non-existent in Cairo. The privileged Cairenes go to their clubs, but where can the vast majority of children play? Should Cairo children pay to play?
General background: In April 2013 the Committee on Children’s Rights of the United Nations expressed their concern by the general poor recognition given to article 31: the right to play. Playing is an underestimated need of children in urban environments. Free and active play benefits physical, cognitive and social development. A more child friendly public space would not only result in safe places for children to play and meet in, it would also stimulate a more active lifestyle, fighting the increasing numbers of overweight children and women (global problem, but in urban Egypt extremely high). Inclusion of children’s needs in public space, contributes to the empowerment of children, their citizen participation and sense of belonging to their city. The United Nations emphasize the need to create time and space for children to engage in spontaneous play (…), and to promote societal attitudes that encourage such activity.
Situation: In Cairo, the poor recognition for the right to play for all children is striking. The clubs are the only places with spaces designated for play; membership is unaffordable for the vast majority. In the densest areas of Cairo, inhabiting 65% of Cairo’s children, there are – apart from a few football courts for which children have to pay to play – simply no places designated for children or play.
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