Anna, 10, and Sofia, 5, play in a Child Friendly Space in Zaporizhzhia, Ukraine

A day for play?

By Oliver Fiala
2024-06-11

Play is a fundamental right, helping children to develop, building resilience and instilling confidence. That’s why the UN celebrates on 11th June the International Day of Play. Toys are by no means the only way to play, but there are one joyful way of play, as many of us can probably remember. But a quick data analysis of household surveys across 62 mostly low- and middle-income countries show that this experience is not true for many children: only two-thirds of children age 0-4 years play with homemade or shop-bought toys.

Only four out of ten children in Mauritania and Malawi are playing with toys. As often, we also see steep inequities between children depending on the wealth of their parents: while 84% of children in the richest 20% of households play with toys, this is only true for 55% of children in the poorest 20%. A Save the Children colleague from Bangladesh rightly says, “Play is the only language children speak. And we must all learn that language.” Unfortunately, our data shows that not all children have currently the abilities to join in – something to keep in mind as we celebrate today International Day of Play.

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