Children and Youth in Urban Cities: When Home is the Street

Editorial from Equity for Children Director, Alberto Minujin

Given our increasingly urbanized world, Equity for Children has been sharpening its focus on the issue of inequity in urban areas and the implications for children and youth. Today in the ‘Global South’ or ‘Developing World’, “Urban areas have around 2.7 billion inhabitants. This means that these urban areas have close to two-fifths of the world’s population” (Mitlin and Satterthwaite, 2012),1 Urban Poverty in the Global South, Routledge).

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Many of them are children leaving in slums, in poor families with little access to urban advantages. In addition, many are coping with the pressures that urban cities bring.

Children and youth who live on the streets represent one of the most visible conditions of inequity and vulnerability. On January 30, 2013, Equity for Children presented the New York premiere of a Brazilian documentary entitled “When Home is the Street”, followed by a panel discussion including the film’s principal researcher, Irene Rizzini, Director of the International Center for the Study and Research on Children (CIESPI) at the Pontifical Catholic University of Rio de Janeiro. The central storytellers are two adolescents who speak about their own experiences — including a touching description of how to move forward and make their lives different. The film gives voice and agency to these adolescents as they tell about their situations and crucial elements for change: discussing solutions, being recognized as a full person, being respected, being seen not as a threat to society but as an asset and feeling empowered as citizens with rights. “Love your kids, be with them, hug them as much as possible and give them a cake for their birthdays” is the simple and powerful advice that these youths offer to parents.

Awareness of the situation of these children, and advocacy to promote sound policies for social inclusion and equity are the objectives of this documentary and of Equity for Children.

1. Mitlin, Diana and Satterhwaite, David (2012). “Urban Poverty in the Global South: Scale and Nature.” Routledge, 2012.

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