Vietnamese architect in BBC list of 100 most influential women in 2020

By Minh Nga   November 25, 2020 | 04:45 pm GMT+7
A woman behind free playgrounds for children made from recycled materials has been honored in the 2020 BBC 100 women list.

Chu Kim Duc, 40, is an architect in Hanoi, who has since 2014 been on a mission to promote children’s right to play, cofounding Think Playgrounds, a social enterprise that seeks to find "simple, effective and creative solutions" to build playgrounds for children, especially in inner cities.

As director of Think Playgrounds, she has been working with partners and communities across the country to create over 180 public playgrounds from recycled materials.

A majority of materials for those playgrounds are what people have thrown away such as tyres, robes, logs, metal, plastic and wooden furniture and debris. They have been built into slides, zip lines, jungle gym, seesaws, and other structures for kids to play for free.

Chu Kim Duc with a boy at a Think Playgrounds project in 2019. Photo courtesy of Think Playgrounds.

Chu Kim Duc with a boy at a Think Playgrounds project in 2019. Photo courtesy of Think Playgrounds.

She is currently working on therapy playgrounds for the Vietnam National Children's Hospital in Hanoi and on the first low-carbon playground in the capital.

Her organization has been working closely with housing developers to reserve a part of the project’s land for building playgrounds, and with architects to create playgrounds with appropriate designs using recycled materials that are safe and durable.

It also organizes workshops to raise public awareness of the need for playgrounds and coordinates with the media to solicit support.

The British state broadcaster BBC announces the annual list to honor inspiring and influential women around the world.

This year’s list highlights those who are leading change and making a difference during these turbulent times, it said.

Duc told the BBC, "Passionate, constant learning is what helps us overcome difficulties and be optimistic.

"Be playful in work and in life. It is about learning, with an intrinsic motivation: what do you need to do, what do you enjoy doing?"

Chu Kim Duc stands by a painted wall at a Think Playgrounds project in 2015. Photo courtesy of Think Playgrounds.

Chu Kim Duc stands by a painted wall at a Think Playgrounds project in 2015. Photo courtesy of Think Playgrounds.

This year's list also includes Sanna Marin, who leads Finland's all-woman coalition government, actresses/activists Jane Fonda and Michelle Yeoh and Sarah Gilbert, who heads the Oxford University research into a coronavirus vaccine.

Duc wrote on her Facebook page: "I'm so proud to be in the list of 100 women who bring change to the world. Thank you BBC for recognizing my work to promote children's right to play in Vietnam."

The BBC said "when countless women around the world have made sacrifices to help others" this year, one name on the list has been left blank as a tribute.

Last year there were two Vietnamese in the list, Nguyen Thi Van, founder of a vocational training center for disabled people, and conservationist Nguyen Thu Trang.

 
 
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