December 20th, 2012
In the United Nations Millennium Declaration, 189 world leaders identified solidarity as one of the fundamental values essential to international relations in the 21st century.
International Human Solidarity Day promotes unity in diversity.
International Human Solidarity Day was proclaimed on December 22nd, in 2005, and first celebrated in 2006.
Today, UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon highlighted the benefits of inclusive cooperation, saying that strides made in reducing poverty and advancing democratic freedoms in recent years were proving that point. In his annual statement, Mr. Ban said “We can reach our shared goals if people are able to participate in the formulation and implementation of plans, policies and programmes to shape our common future.”
Activities on the International Human Solidarity Day may include campaigning for the following issues:
- Banning land mines.
- Making health and medication accessible to those in need.
- Relief efforts to help those who suffered the effects of natural or human-made disasters.
- Achieving universal education.
- Fighting against poverty, corruption and terrorism.
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December 10th, 2012
Today is Human Rights Day! The day commemorates the date in 1948 when the United Nations adopted the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Today, the declaration is available in 360 languages, with new translations still being added.
781 million adults across the globe cannot read or write.
This year’s theme for Human Rights Day is “My Voice Counts.” The United Nations has been hosting a series of Google+ hangouts since November 22nd, giving the public a chance to engage with senior UN officials and leading experts on the rights of minorities, persons with disabilities, to discuss the impact of business on human rights, and beyond.
Although there have been great advancements in gender and race equality since 1948, human rights violations still happen every day all around the world. According to the Amnesty International annual report, in 2006, 20,000 people were on death row. 69 countries still use the death penalty. Similarly, in 2006, 1 in 3 women had been beaten, coerced into sex, or otherwise abused.
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December 9th, 2012
Today is Hanukkah, the Jewish festival of lights.
Hanukkah is celebrated by lighting one candle on the Hanukiah each day.
Hanukkah dates back two centuries before Christianity and literally means rededication. Hanukkah symbolizes how God looked after Jewish people in hard times.
The story goes that an ancient king in Syria tried to make Jewish people worship Greek gods. He built a statue of one Greek god in a big Jewish temple and ordered people to bow to it. The Ten Commandments forbid the worshipping of idols and the Jewish people refused. Three years of war and unrest followed these events. Eventually, lead by a small group called the Maccabees, Jewish people claimed back Jerusalem from the Syrians. Their temple, however, was destroyed. Jewish people then rebuilt the temple and purified it by burning ritual oil.
The purification of the temple marks one of the biggest miracles in Jewish history: only a small amount of oil was found (enough to last for a day) but the lamp in the temple burned a total of eight days.
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December 5th, 2012
Today is the International Volunteer Day!
The day aims to thank all volunteers for their efforts, and to highlight the importance of volunteer work in promoting peace and sustainable development across the globe.
International Volunteer Day holds a special importance for me. My first experience of real volunteer work happened, not so long ago, in 2009. I was on my last year in high school and decided to join the school’s Habitat for Humanity club. Habitat for Humanity is an organization that aims to help “families escape the nightmare of housing poverty.” Our high school club arranged various fundraising events throughout the school year, and in May ten of us travelled to Krabi, Thailand to help rebuild a home to one of the families who lost their house in a tsunami a couple of years before. For me the experience was both fun and exciting, but I now feel that I didn’t understand the full meaning of our work until much later.
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December 3rd, 2012
Today is the International Day for Persons with Disabilities.
According to World Health Organization (WHO), 15% of the world’s population has a disability. That means one billion people worldwide, out of which 11 million reside in the UK.
The UN first established the International Day for Persons with Disabilities in 1992, and originally the day was called International Day of Disabled Persons. The UN day aims to promote understanding of disabilities worldwide, “and mobilise support for the dignity, rights and well-being of persons with disabilities.” In addition, the day “seeks to increase awareness of gains to be derived from the integration of persons with disabilities in every aspect of political, social, economic and cultural life.”
Each year focuses on a different issue around disabilities. The theme for 2012 is “Removing barriers to create an inclusive and accessible society for all.”
Read more about disability and health, as well as the International Day for Persons with Disabilities, here.
Or, browse the BBC disability blog, Ouch! here.
November 20th, 2012
Today is Universal Children’s Day, a day to remind people across the globe of the rights and welfare of children.
Children's Day highlights the importance of welfare.
The day was first established in 1954 by the General Assembly of the UN as a response to child labour. The day highlights the inhumane aspects of child labour: the long hours, dangerous work conditions, and denial of education.
In most countries, the situation of child labourers has improved drastically since 1954, but there are still over 215 million child labourers around the world today. The UN is worried about the current trends because it seems that the number of child labourers is on the rise in poorer countries. The UN has therefore declared to eliminate child labour by 2020. This declaration fits into the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), which all have a target date in 2015. Although the MDGs are for all human kind, they are primarily about children.
“We were all children once,” is the message from the secretary general on Universal Children’s Day. “We all share the desire for the well-being of our children, which has always been and will continue to be the most universally cherished aspiration of humankind.”
Happy Universal Children’s Day everyone!
World Day Against Child Labour – June 12th
Yes! There is even a World Toilet Day. So, how precious are our loos?
It’s hard to imagine life without something we take for granted, but this is the daily reality for 2.6 billion people. 40 % of the world’s population does not have access to adequate sanitation. Lack of sanitation is the world’s biggest cause of infection. World Toilet Day aims to highlight the plight of those without access to sanitation. However, to bring a note of lavatory humour to this subject…
I recall a client of mine who made an inglorious cross-cultural marketing blunder and then asked me why. The client, a well-known pharmaceutical company, launched an advertising campaign in Japan, for a medicine to settle a bad stomach. In Japan their advert ran along the following lines… showing someone feeling ill, taking medicine and feeling better.
But it failed miserably… Any idea why? Click the link for the cross-cultural marketing blunder answer. Just for fun on World Toilet Day here are a few toilet signs that will make you smile:
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There has never been a greater international need to stop and think about tolerance and understanding. Today is the International Day of Tolerance. The Day of Tolerance was created in 1996 after the 1995 United Nations Year of Tolerance.
The day is all about promoting tolerance between all people across the globe. It is vital for the sake of the environment, the economy, and our society that we create a tolerant world, where we can cooperate without prejudice or hatred.
In 2005, The World Summit Outcome document was updated. The document outlines a commitment by heads of state and government to advance human welfare, freedom and progress. It also encourages tolerance, respect,dialogue and cooperation among different cultures, civilisations and peoples.
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Diwali is the Hindu Festival of Lights
Diwali is a five-day long celebration and means as much to Hindus as Christmas does to Christians. Diwali signifies the renewal of life and heralds the beginning of winter – when sowing crops can start.
Diwali is also a Sikh festival, especially celebrating the release from prison of the sixth guru, Hargobind, in 1619. However, Sikhs had celebrated Diwali for many years before that. The foundation stone of the Golden Temple at Amritsar, the holiest place in the Sikh world, was laid on Diwali in 1577. For Jains, Diwali marks the attainment of Moksha (Nirvana, or eternal bliss) by the founder of Jainism, Lord Mahavira.
Find out more about Diwali.
“We should never denigrate any other culture but rather help people to
understand the relationship between their own culture and the dominant culture. When you understand another culture or language, it does not mean that you have to lose your own culture.”
Edward T. Hall