The UN General Assembly, on 4 December 2000, adopted resolution 55/76 where it noted that 2001 marked the 50th anniversary of the 1951 Convention relating to the Status of Refugees, and that the Organization of African Unity (OAU) had agreed to have International Refugee Day coincide with Africa Refugee Day on 20 June.
On World Refugee Day, held every year on June 20th, we commemorate the strength, courage and perseverance of millions of refugees. World Refugee Day also marks a key moment for the public to show support for families forced to flee. One in every 113 people on the planet is now a refugee. Around the world, someone is displaced every three seconds, forced from their homes by violence, war and persecution. By the end of 2016, the number of displaced people had risen to 65.6 million – more than the population of the United Kingdom.
“Refugees are people like anyone else, like you and me. They led ordinary lives before becoming displaced, and their biggest dream is to be able to live normally again. On this World Refugee Day, let us recall our common humanity, celebrate tolerance and diversity and open our hearts to refugees everywhere.” – Ban Ki-moon
Learn more at UN World Refugee Day
July 18 is an annual, international, celebration of Nelson Mandela’s life and a global call to action for people to recognize their individual power to make an imprint change the world around them. Nelson Mandela International Day was launched in recognition of Nelson Mandela’s birthday on 18 July, 2009 via unanimous decision of the UN General Assembly.
It was inspired by a call Nelson Mandela made a year earlier, for the next generation to take on the burden of leadership in addressing the world’s social injustices when he said that “it is in your hands now”. It is more than a celebration of Madiba’s life and legacy. It is a global movement to honour his life’s work and act to change the world for the better.
Learn more about Nelson Mandela Day
August 23 is UNESCO’S International Day for the Remembrance of the Slave Trade and its Abolition. This day pays tribute to all those who fought for freedom, and, in their name, to continue teaching about their story and the values therein. Today is meant to inspire us in the fight against all forms of servitude, racism, prejudice, racial discrimination and social injustice that are a legacy of slavery.
Learn more about this day on the UNESCO website.
Women’s Equality Day is celebrated in the United States on August 26 to commemorate the 1920 adoption of the Nineteenth Amendment (Amendment XIX) to the United States Constitution, which prohibits the states and the federal government from denying the right to vote to citizens of the United States on the basis of sex. It was first celebrated in 1973 and is proclaimed each year by the United States President.
August 26th is the anniversary of national woman suffrage. Across the seventy-two years between the first major women’s rights conference at Seneca Falls, New York, in 1848, and the passage of the Nineteenth Amendment, thousands of people participated in marches through cities like New York and Washington DC, wrote editorials and pamphlets, gave speeches all over the nation, lobbied political organizations, and held demonstrations with the goal of achieving voting rights for women.
Women also picketed the White House with questions like, “Mr. President, what are you going to do about woman’s suffrage?” “Mr. President, how long must women wait for liberty?” This was the first time in history that a group of people picketed the White House.
Suicide prevention remains a universal challenge. Every year, suicide is among the top 20 leading causes of death globally for people of all ages. It is responsible for over 800,000 deaths, which equates to one suicide every 40 seconds.
September 10 has been declared World Suicide Prevention Day.
Everyone can make a contribution in preventing suicide. Suicidal behaviour is universal, knows no boundaries so it affects everyone. The millions of people affected each year by suicidal behaviour have exclusive insight and unique voices. Their experiences are invaluable for informing suicide prevention measures and influencing the provision of supports for suicidal people and those around them. The involvement of people with lived experience of suicide in research, evaluation and intervention should be central to the work of every organisation addressing suicidal behaviour.
Learn more at: World Suicide Prevention Day
Each year, Americans observe National Hispanic Heritage Month from September 15 to October 15, by celebrating the histories, cultures and contributions of American citizens whose ancestors came from Spain, Mexico, the Caribbean and Central and South America.
The observation started in 1968 as Hispanic Heritage Week under President Lyndon Johnson and was expanded by President Ronald Reagan in 1988 to cover a 30-day period starting on September 15 and ending on October 15. It was enacted into law on August 17, 1988, on the approval of Public Law 100-402.
The day of September 15 is significant because it is the anniversary of independence for Latin American countries Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras and Nicaragua. In addition, Mexico and Chile celebrate their independence days on September 16 and September18, respectively. Also, Columbus Day or Día de la Raza, which is October 12, falls within this 30 day period.
LGBT History Month is a month-long annual observance of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender history, and the history of the gay rights and related civil rights movements. LGBT History Month provides role models, builds community, and makes the civil rights statement about our extraordinary national and international contributions. Currently, LGBT History Month is a month-long celebration that is specific to the United States, and the United Kingdom. In the United States, it is celebrated in October to coincide with National Coming Out Day on October 11. In the United Kingdom, it is observed during February, to coincide with a major celebration of the 2003 abolition of Section 28. In Berlin, it is known as Queer History Month. Other LGBT-progressive countries, however, celebrate LGBT History with much shorter events.
In 1994, Rodney Wilson, a Missouri high school teacher, believed a month should be dedicated to the celebration and teaching of gay and lesbian history, and gathered other teachers and community leaders. They selected October because public schools are in session and existing traditions, such as Coming Out Day (October 11), occur that month.
Gay and Lesbian History Month was endorsed by GLAAD, the Human Rights Campaign, the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force, the National Education Association, and other national organizations. In 2006, Equality Forum assumed responsibility for providing content, promotion and resources for LGBT History Month.
The International Day of Non-Violence is marked on 2 October, the birthday of Mahatma Gandhi, leader of the Indian independence movement and pioneer of the philosophy and strategy of non-violence.
According to General Assembly resolution A/RES/61/271 of 15 June 2007, which established the commemoration, the International Day is an occasion to “disseminate the message of non-violence, including through education and public awareness”. The resolution reaffirms “the universal relevance of the principle of non-violence” and the desire “to secure a culture of peace, tolerance, understanding and non-violence”.
“There are many causes that I am prepared to die for but no causes that I am prepared to kill for.” – Mahatma Gandhi
Learn more about the day on the UN Website.
National Coming Out Day is a celebration of coming out as lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer (LGBTQ) or as an ally. In 1988, October 11, the anniversary of the National March on Washington for Lesbian and Gay Rights, National Coming Out Day was first observed as a reminder that one of our most basic tools is the power of coming out. One out of every two Americans has someone close to them who is gay or lesbian. For transgender people, that number is only one in 10.
Learn more about National Coming Out Day
The second Monday of October annually marks Columbus Day in many parts the United States but not all states or region follow this observance. Instead, they celebrate other events on the day. For example, South Dakota’s official holiday on this date is Native Americans’ Day (also known as Native American Day), while people in Berkeley, California, celebrate Indigenous People’s Day.
An international celebration of conflict resolution – held annually the third Thursday in October. Conflict Resolution Day was conceived in 2005 by Association for Conflict Resolution to:
• Promote awareness of mediation, arbitration, conciliation and other creative, peaceful means of resolving conflict;
• Promote the use of conflict resolution in schools, families, businesses, communities, governments and the legal system;
• Recognize the significant contributions of (peaceful) conflict resolvers; and
• Obtain national synergy by having celebrations happen across the country and around the world on the same day.
November 13 is an international observance of World Kindness Day – a day to highlight good deeds in the community focusing on the positive power and the common thread of kindness which binds us. Kindness is a fundamental part of the human condition which bridges the divides of race religion, politics, gender and zip codes.
Today is a great day to practise a Random Act of Kindness!