Myanmar

The second playground ever to have been designed by and built for teenage girls is in the city of Yangon in Myanmar. (At least as far as we know it’s the second, please do write and tell is if you’ve found another one.)

The project was put together by local social enterprise Doh Eain, which means Our Home. They specialise in community-focussed regeneration of urban space, and in the course of their work came to realise that teenage girls felt very marginalised in the city. As in many places, girls felt unsafe and pressurised to stay at home, but Yangon, the largest city in Myanmar, has very particular problems too; not only verbal harassment but unwanted groping is a huge problem in public places.

Because of this, girls didn’t feel that even parks were safe places for them to go. So it felt particularly important for them to have their own space in the city. Creating that mean that the girls were at the centre of the process from the start.

They developed the vision, worked out the layout and then presented their ideas to the neighbourhood.

The final design was a playground divided into different areas, so that there is always room for a different group.

It has high spaces with plenty of space to hang out and chat.

And it has swings. Of course it has swings.

Not only have they created a great park, the fact that the girls designed the park themselves has given them a sense of agency and being recognised.

But perhaps the most crucial thing is that the park exists in the first place. It represents to all girls, not just the ones who built it, that they have a right not just to be in public space but to feel safe there. And as such it’s a very important design indeed.