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Children’s play is central to their human rights

by | tra 1, 2021

Children’s play is not optional. Children’s play is a human right under international law.

Right to play is enshrined in Article 31 of the UN’s Convention on the Rights of the Child, which calls upon governments to recognize the children’s right to rest, leisure, age-appropriate play, and
recreational activities. This is premised on the fundamental belief and evidence-based research showing that play and recreation are essential to children’s health, well-being, and development of their
creativity, imagination, and self-confidence, in addition to growing their physical, social, cognitive, and emotional strength and skills.
Play also contributes to the construction of children’s social position in the world as they explore and experience the world around them and experiment with roles and experiences. Their brain develops,
but so do their negotiating, conflict resolution, emotional literacy, and decision-making skills.

The Committee on the Rights of the Child states that while considered non-essential, play is a fundamental dimension of the pleasure of childhood. From a child rights perspective, facilitating play in a safe environment where children’s other fundamental rights are met (for example, health, education, freedom from violence) further facilitates and reinforces their rights and helps realize their potential as human beings and members of society.

And speaking of rights, children also have a right to be made aware of their rights including their right to play and how to hold duty bearers accountable, and for this, they need critical thinking skills which are in turn harvested through play.

We live in a world where toy markets are misregulated, packed with toys that treat children as passive observers and where toys are made of harmful materials and even perpetuate negative social stereotypes linked to gender. Therefore, the integrity of the brands that are custodians of play should promote rather than undermine children’s fundamental human rights.

And&Toys understands this.

Dragica Mikavica

And&Toys STEM ambasadorica

Dragica Mikavica has been advocating for children’s rights at the United Nations in New York since 2013.
She is a senior advocate at Save the Children and influences governments to protect children affected by war, end child marriage and empower adolescent girls. She is a graduate from Cornell University and The
New School in the United States. Dragica is an auntie to Neven (4) and Stefan (2) and spends a lot of her spare time researching toys that promote her nephews’ cognitive development. Otherwise, she was born
in former Yugoslavia and holds her native home in the Balkans close to her heart as she navigates the world.

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