Today’s date commemorates a day in 1976 when ten thousand school children gathered for a march in Soweto, South Africa, to protest the poor quality of their education and demanding the right to be taught in their own language. Hundreds of children were shot and more than a thousand were injured in the protest.
The International Day of the African Child has been celebrated since 1991. It is an important day for campaigning for children’s rights, and for essentials such as health care and education. Moreover, it is a day for African children to celebrate and voice their opinions through drama, poetry, or organized debates. In addition, thousands of football matches for children take place across African countries on this day.
Although every year has its own unique theme, most years so far have highlighted the lack of quality education for children in Africa. The gap between legislation and practice is enormous. All African countries recognize the United Nations declaration of Human Rights and agree that all children are entitled to good, basic education. According to the Right to Education project, however, there are 75 million children in the world who do not have access to basic education, and 150 millionchildren currently enrolled will drop out before completing primary education and least two-thirds of them are girls. Out of the 75 million children approximately 40 million are in Africa.
Watch this video about how Mozambique celebrated International Day for the African Child two years ago.
Today the world celebrates Music Day, also known as Fete de la Musique. On this day, anyone can make music of any genre in any location, provided that the music is free. The main purpose of World Music Day is to make all genres of music accessible for everyone.
The day originated in France in 1982, but it is now observed by 110 countries all around the world. Each year, events around World Music Day consist of free performances organized in parks, public squares, and indoor venues, as well as unofficial concerts given along city streets.
Today is the longest day of the year, or Summer Solstice! It is not an official, religious, or even a UN observance day but Summer Solstice has had symbolic and spiritual significance around the world for thousands of years.
During summer solstice, people gather to celebrate in Stonehenge
Humans have always wondered and been mesmerized by the power of sun. The word ‘solstice’ derives from Latin sol (sun) and sistere (to stand still).
According to the BBC different religions have celebrated Summer Solstice in the following ways: “Celts celebrated with bonfires that would add to the sun’s energy, Christians placed the feast of St John the Baptist towards the end of June and it is also the festival of Li, the Chinese Goddess of light.”
In the UK alone, hundreds of different traditions are practiced during Summer Solstice. Gathering at Stonehenge is particularly popular for the ancient, religious significance of the place. Stonehenge is usually only accessible from a distance and visitors can admire it from the Visitor’s Center or from along a guided path. On the longest day of the year, however, the organization that protects English historic artifacts and environment, English Heritage, allows 20,000 people to come and celebrate among the stones freely.
Apart from the celebrating and praying, Summer Solstice used to have a third purpose: the day used to be absolutely essential for one’s well being. Associated with agriculture, the summer solstice was a reminder that a turning point in the growing season had been reached.
Every year, on June 20th, the United Nations observes World Refugee Day. Some countries also organize an annual refuge week.
Burmese refugees march on World Refugee Day.
In the UK, the refuge week is from the 18th to the 24th of June. Refuge week is a time to recognize the hardships, determination, and courage of people who are forced to leave their homes due to war and oppression. Moreover, in the UK, refuge week is a time to celebrate the various contributions refugees bring to the country. The Telegraph lists ten examples of refugee contributions, among which are the following:
- One of Britain’s most famous buildings, Hampton Court Palace, was designed by a French Huguenot refugee.
- It is believed that fish and chips was brought over in the 17th century by Jewish refugees from Portugal.
- Hip-hop musician, political activist and designer M.I.A. is a Sri Lankan refugee.
- A son of an Italian refugee designed the Millennium Dome.
In 2011, there was a 20% increase in the amount of asylum seekers around the world. The on-going conflict in Afghanistan means that the country has more asylum seekers than any other country in the world. In 2011 alone 36,000 Afghans requested asylum. Other examples of countries producing a high number of asylum requests are Serbia, China, and Pakistan. United States, France, and Germany received the most requests for international protection. In 2011, UK was the seventh biggest receiver.
Today is the World Day to Combat Desertification and Drought. The aim of this day is to highlight the different ways in which we can prevent desertification and cover areas that are in draught. The reason why it’s important to fight desertification is that moist, healthy soil maintains biodiversity, whereas dry land destroys life.
Today’s date marks the martyrdom of Guru Arjan Dev, the founder of the Sikh faith. Although many of us encounter Sikhism daily in the multicultural United Kingdom street scene, only a few know how Sikhism came to be. Today’s date is the perfect day to learn about it.
Guru Arjan Dev
Guru Arjan Dev was born in 1953. He believed that the meaning of life, and religion, was simply to live in this world and cope with everyday problems. One of his most famous quotes is “My faith is for the people of all castes and all creeds from whichever direction they come and to whichever direction they bow.” He announced this after creating the Sikhs their first central place of worship. The place for worship became known as the Golden Temple, although it was controversial in many ways. Guru Arjan Dev believed that humility is a great virtue, thus, he built the temple very low rather than tall and close to the sky as was the custom. Whats more, he ordered the temple to have entrances on all four sides. This was because Muslims believe God’s house is in the West, whereas Hindu’s believe it is in the East, and Guru Arjan Dev wanted his faith to accommodate everyone. To help raise money for the Golden Temple Guru Arjan Dev declared that Sikhs must donate 1/10 of their earnings to charity. This is still an important part of the Sikh fate today.
Today is the tenth time the world celebrates World Day Against Child Labor.
The International Labor Organization, (ILO), launched the day in 2002 as a way to bring attention to the hundreds of millions of working children deprived of a childhood.
Hundreds of millions of children start work too early.
Children who are forced to work are denied of the opportunity to go to school, and instead they are often forced to work in dangerous, hazardous conditions.
In 2010, the international community adopted a roadmap for achieving elimination for the worst forms of child labor by 2016. The document stresses children’s right to personal freedom and highlights that child labor is a hindrance for development. The document distinguishes the four following conditions as the worst forms of child labor: all forms of slavery, prostitution or use of children for pornographic material, use of children for production or trafficking drugs, and work which is likely to harm a child’s health.
Following up on World Environment Day, today we are celebrating World Oceans Day!
This day has been unofficially celebrated since 1992, when Canada proposed it in the first Earth Summit in Rio de Janeiro. The day was officially recognized by the United Nations in 2008.
Oceans cover 70% of our planet.
The World Oceans Day is largely about respecting our oceans and bringing issues like overconsumption and pollution into discussion. But, it is also an opportunity to remind everyone about the psychological, entertaining, and functional purposes of these large bodies of water. Oceans make up for 70% of the world’s surface and they connect us with each other…
Today is World Environment Day (WED), one of the principle ways in which the UN stimulates worldwide awareness of the environment and enhances political attention and action.
This year’s theme is Green Economy: Does it include You? Basically, what the UN means by Green Economy are the overall efforts of nations to reduce carbon emission and pollution, to enhance energy and resource efficiency, and to prevent the loss of biodiversity. According to the UN Environment Program, Green Economy both significantly lowers environmental risks and improves human well-being and social equity. This years theme, therefore, aims to encourage people to find out more about Green Technology and about the various different ways in which they are already included, and the ways in which they can participate further. The official WED website is pledging people to “help break the record for the greatest number of activities registered in WED’s four decade history.”
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International keynote speaker, Seminar Leader, Consultant
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