Special Days

Special Days

SPECIAL DAYS OF NOVEMBER

NOV 01

16 November: International Day for Tolerance

In 1995, the 125th anniversary of the birth of Mahatma Gandhi, UNESCO created a special prize,  the UNESCO-Madanjeet Singh Prize that rewards significant activities of institutions, organizations or persons, in the scientific, artistic, cultural or communication fields for the Promotion of Tolerance and Non-Violence. The prize is awarded every two years.

TOGETHER is a global UNO campaign to promote tolerance, respect and dignity, to reduce negative perceptions and attitudes, and to strengthen the social contract between host countries and communities, refugees and migrants.

This Day is an occasion for people to learn to respect and recognize the rights and beliefs of others; to reflect, discuss and debate on the negative effects of intolerance. Other activities include essays, dialogues and story-telling of people’s personal accounts of intolerance and how it affects their lives. Human rights activists also use this day as an opportunity to speak out on human rights laws, discrimination against minorities, all forms of racism, xenophobia, exclusion and hatred.

Globalization has sharpened inequality, poverty, enduring conflicts and movements of peoples. Diversity is seen as weakness. There is a rise of exclusive politics. Barbaric terrorist attacks are designed to weaken the fabric of ‘living together.’

Tolerance is more than indifference and the passive acceptance of others. It is an act of liberation, a struggle for peace, accepting the great diversity of humanity, reaching out to others across new bridges of understanding and dialogue.

Cultures differ from one another in many ways, and also share common elements. But humanity is a single community. There are seven billion ways of ‘being human’.

We pledge:

  • to defend humanity’s cultural diversity and heritage from pillaging and attacks,
  • to prevent violent extremism through education, freedom of expression and media literacy,
  • to empower the young to strengthen dialogue between cultures and religions.

Tolerance is an act of humanity, which we must nurture and enact each in our own lives every day, rejoicing in the diversity that makes us strong and the values that bring us together.

19 November: World Day of Remembrance for Road Traffic Victims

The Day draws attention to the emotional and economic devastation caused by road crashes. It also recognizes the work of support and emergency services.

Road deaths and injuries are sudden, violent and traumatic events. Their impact is long-lasting, often permanent. Each year, millions of newly injured and bereaved people from every corner of the world are added to the countless millions who already suffer. Road crashes are the leading cause of death in people aged between 5 to 34 years. Every six seconds someone is killed or injured.

The grief and distress experienced by this huge number of people is all the greater because a significant number of the victims are so young. Many of the crashes could and should have been prevented. But the response of governments and society to road death and injury and to bereaved and injured victims is often inadequate, unsympathetic, and inappropriate to a loss of life or quality of life.

This special Remembrance Day is therefore intended to respond to the great need of road crash victims for public recognition of their loss and suffering. It offers the opportunity to demonstrate the enormous scale and impact of road deaths and injuries and the urgent need for action.

Many events can be held on this Day:

  • Remembrance services and flower-laying ceremonies in memory of dead road victims;
  • Reunions of affected families and friends;
  • Media campaigns and coverage, video presentations on road traffic crashes;
  • Awareness campaigns on the risk of speeding traffic .

Slowing down is a safe option.

We all want to arrive safely at our destination. By slowing down, we make our roads safer for our children, families and friends. Research shows that a 5% cut in average speed can result in a 30% reduction in the number of fatal road traffic crashes.

Road traffic slogans to live by:

Alert today – Alive tomorrow.
Slow down! Your family will be waiting for you.
Stop accidents before they stop you.
Speed thrills but kills!
Accidents do not happen, they are caused.

 

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Special Days

SPECIAL DAYS

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2 October: International Day of Non-Violence

The United Nations observes this Day annually on the birthday of Mahatma Gandhi, one of the most influential political activists of all time. He was born in India in 1869 and through his efforts, India gained its freedom on 15 August 1947. He was assassinated on 30 January 1948.

Gandhi put forward the notion of “non-violence” and the tremendous impact of this form of social response as a tool for the peaceful resolution of differences and “to secure a culture of peace, tolerance, understanding and non-violence“. He saw the use of violence to achieve peace as completely irrational.

Rejecting the idea that forgiveness is a sign of weakness, Gandhiji would say, “The weak can never forgive. Forgiveness is the attribute of the strong.”

Can’t we hate those who do us harm? No, he insisted, “hatred can only be overcome by love.”

We cannot expect others to change, while we refuse to. Hence his famous saying: “Be the change you want to see in the world.”

This world has had its share of bloody wars that ended countless innocent lives and led to widespread destruction. Non-violence is not pacifism.  It rejects the use of physical violence and advocates other means like protests and persuasion, marches and vigils, multi-faith prayer meetings, candle-light ceremonies, civil disobedience to unjust laws, non-cooperation and non-violent intervention, such as blockades, occupations and sit-ins, to achieve social or political change.

There are people in this world who have made the changes they thought necessary, without the use of violence or brute force. To name but a few – Martin Luther King, Rosa Parks, John Lennon, Nelson Mandela.

These are the type of people that the International Day of Non-Violence celebrates. Read or enact their biographies. Spread their message of non-violence. Find out what motivated them to act as they did, what helped keep them strong even when they saw terrible things happening all around them. These stories are fascinating and inspiring. They teach us the virtues of bravery, compassion, and perseverance. Spreading hatred and violence may look clever, and is easier, but it is self-destructive. No lasting solutions are found through violence.

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11 October: International Day of the Girl Child

The International Day of Girls is declared by the United Nations to raise awareness of gender inequality faced by girls internationally, especially regarding education, nutrition, child marriage, protection from discrimination, violence against women, legal and medical rights.

Statistics: The world’s 1.1 billion girls are a formidable source of power, energy, and creativity. But

  • More than 62 million girls around the world have no access to education.
  • Many global development plans do not include or consider Girls.
  • Globally, one in four Girls are married before age 18.
  • Girls, ages 5 to 14, spend more than 160 million hours more on household chores than boys of the same age do.
  • Girls around the world are vulnerable to acts of sexual violence and the perpetrators often go unpunished.

The Day of Girls helps raise awareness not only of the issues that Girls face, but also what is likely to happen when those problems are solved. For example, educating Girls helps reduce the rate of child marriage and disease. It helps strengthen the economy by helping Girls to have access to higher-paying jobs.

The empowerment of and investment in girls are critical for:

  • breaking the cycle of discrimination and violence
  • economic growth, the eradication of poverty and extreme poverty
  • promoting and protecting the full and effective enjoyment of their human rights, their active participation in decision-making processes and the active support and engagement of their parents, legal guardians, families and care providers, as well as boys, men and the wider community.

In India, there are a number of things we need to attend to urgently: the killing of female fetuses and of newly born girls (which causes the terrible male-female ration in several states in India); child marriages; the lack of educational opportunities for girls; lower wages paid to women workers; domestic violence; the financial and sexual exploitation of domestic workers, most of whom are women; the lack of toilets in homes and in schools, which puts the women and girls to great inconvenience and causes health problems.

The celebration of the day also “reflects the successful emergence of Girls and young women as a distinct force in development policy, programming, campaigning and research.”

 

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Special Days

SPECIAL DAYS

SEP 04

September 8: International Literacy Day

Its aim is to make the people aware and to highlight the importance of literacy to individuals, communities and societies in every Country. A day to remind world leaders, influencers, writers and the general public of the current status of adult literacy and learning.

Statistics:

Some 775 million adults lack minimum literacy skills; one in five adults are still not literate and two-thirds of them are women. 60.7 million children are out-of-school and many more attend irregularly or drop out.

 According to UNESCO’s Report on Education (2006), the lowest adult literacy rate are:

Regions: – South Asia (58.6%), followed by sub-Saharan Africa (59.7%)

Countries: – Burkina Faso (12.8%), Niger (14.4%) and Mali (19%)

Despite its economic growth, India still remains the country with the largest number of illiterate adults in the world. The literacy rate for India is 74.5% for men, and 65% for women. There is a huge difference among the States in literacy rates, as the Literacy Map of India shows. The rates range from Kerala with 94%, Lakshadeep  and Mizoram with 92% each, Tripura with 88 and Goa with 87%. At the bottom of the ladder as Bihar (64%), Telengana (66%), Arunachal Pradesh and Rajasthan (67%) and Andhra Pradesh (68%).

We can all do something to improve this situation. A school can conduct literacy classes for the neighbourhood; panchayats and districts can hold campaigns to promote literacy. More initiatives will come where there is good will.

The report shows a and Aclear connection between illiteracy and countries in severe poverty, and between illiteracy and prejudice against women. Literacy is the best remedy to eradicate poverty and inequalities across the world

This Day highlights the changes and improvements being made worldwide in literacy development. UNESCO has been central in improving global literacy since 1946, in partnership with governments, charities, local communities and experts in the field worldwide.

UNESCO also announces its International Literacy awards, a prestigious prize recognising excellence and innovation. Submissions will be on “Literacy and Skills Development”, the theme for 2018.

Some of the Themes of the past years are: Education for All, Literacy and Health, Literacy and Empowerment, Literacy and Peace, Literacy in the Digital World.

We celebrate the Day to promote the public consciousness about the extraordinary value of the written word and to encourage the literate rate of society. Literacy has the ability to raise the family status and hence the country status.

It is celebrated to encourage people towards getting continuous education and to take up their responsibilities towards the family, society, the country and the world at large.

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September 26:

International Day for the Total Elimination of Nuclear Weapons

Achieving global nuclear disarmament is one of the oldest goals of the United Nations; the subject of the General Assembly’s first resolution in 1946—after the disaster of Hiroshima and Nagasaki!

Yet today, some 15,000 nuclear weapons remain. Countries possessing such weapons have well-funded, long-term plans to modernize their nuclear arsenals. As of 2017, while there have been major reductions in deployed nuclear weapons since the height of the Cold War, not one nuclear warhead has been physically destroyed and no nuclear disarmament negotiations are underway. (For national estimates, see the Chart.)

This International Day provides an occasion for the world community to reaffirm its commitment to global nuclear disarmament as a high priority. It also provides an opportunity to educate the public—and their leaders—about the real benefits of eliminating such weapons, and the social and economic costs of perpetuating them.

Commemorating this Day at the United Nations is especially important, given its universal membership and its long experience in grappling with nuclear disarmament issues. It is the right place to address one of humanity’s greatest challenges, achieving the peace and security of a world without nuclear weapons.

The Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons, adopted on 7 July 2017, marks an important step and contribution towards this common goal.

Secretary-General António Guterres:

The dangers posed by nuclear weapons have been forcefully driven home, making this event timelier than ever. Think, for example, of the tension between N. Korea and USA.

We know that the horrific humanitarian and environmental consequences of the use of nuclear weapons would transcend national borders.

 The only world that is safe from the use of nuclear weapons is a world that is completely free of the nuclear weapons themselves.

It is true that we live in challenging circumstances, but this can be no excuse for walking away from our shared responsibility to seek a more peaceful international society.

 

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Sr Esme Da Cunha FDCC

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Special Days

Special Days

AUGUST 2

August 9: International Day of Indigenous Peoples

Indigenous people, also known as aboriginals, adivasis or natives, are the original inhabitants of a given region, in contrast to groups that have settled, occupied or colonized the area later.

They have a historical continuity with pre-invasion and pre-colonial societies that developed on their territories and are distinct from the other sectors of society now living there. Foreign or domestic incursions have devastated and decimated these peoples, robbing them of their lands and means of livelihood and deprived them of their natural rights as human beings.

In India, they are listed under “Scheduled Tribes.” They form the majority in some parts of India (e.g., the seven North-Eastern States), significant minorities in some states (e.g., Jharkhand, West Bengal and Central India) and smaller percentages in other parts of India.

Key Facts

  • There are over 370 million indigenous peoples, living in more than 90 countries with at least 5000 diverse cultures and some 7000 languages. Estimates show that one indigenous language is dying every week.
  • Indigenous peoples constitute about 5% of the world’s population…

 

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SPECIAL DAYS IN JULY

JULY 11

 30th July:  International Friendship Day

This day is dedicated to celebrating Friendship—one of the sweetest bonds, formed by a mutual relationship of trust, affection, cooperation, and support between two or more persons. We all need friends, no matter what we are going through or where we are in life.

If two persons can be friends, two families can be friends, two neighbourhoods can be friends, two cities, two nations … the world can be bonded by friendship! What a different world that would be! So, kudos to friendship, the bond between hearts!

A good and true friend is hard to find and, if found, it must be considered as God’s special blessing. C.S. Lewis, the renowned British novelist and poet, said “Friendship is unnecessary, like philosophy, like art. It has no survival value; rather it is one of those things that give value to survival.”

So true are these words; no life is worthwhile without friendship. This is the most vital ingredient to live life to its fullest. We need someone special to share our happiness, our sadness and our problems; to share moments of joys and success too.  A true friend is one in whom we can trust blindly; one who knows everything about you and still loves you.

When everything seems to be going against us, it is our friends who fill us with courage and give us courage to keep fighting.  Walking with a friend in the dark is way better than walking in the light alone.

It is a popular custom of celebrating this Day by offering yellow and pink roses to your friends or exchanging “Friendship bands”.

The Miracle of Friendship

There is a miracle called Friendship
that dwells within the heart
and you don’t know how it happens
or even when it starts…

 

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Sr Esme Da Cunha FDCC

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Special Days

SPECIAL DAYS OF THE MONTH

MAY 6

6 May: WORLD LAUGHTER DAY

It is celebrated on the 1st Sunday of May each year, with the aim of bringing peace in the world through laughter.

Laughing and hugging feel good, but few realize how valuable these simple tools can be in improving our sense of wellness. Laughter can help to heal and dissolve everything.

Laughter is the cheapest, most available, effective, palatable and enjoyable ‘medicine’ God created for us. 

Doctors and psychologists have researched on this wonder-drug which they call Laughter Therapy: the use of humor to promote overall health, to relieve physical or emotional discomfort. A good laugh makes us feel better, stronger, more capable of thinking objectively and creatively. We learn to overcome difficulties rather than be overwhelmed by them. It is the body’s natural physiological process to release the painful emotions of anger, fear and boredom.

When we laugh, our body relaxes. Endorphins (natural painkillers) are released into the blood stream. Laughter provides a full-scale workout for our muscles. You do not need to be happy or have a sense of humour to benefit from a good laugh. But who wants ‘fake’ laughter when we can have the real thing?

Psychologist William James said: “We don’t laugh because we are happy; we’re happy because we laugh.”

So: “Laugh and be merry, remember, better the world with a song,

        Better the world with a blow in the teeth of a wrong.” (John Masefield)

So, laugh. It helps you to:

  • live longer
  • Boosts your Immune System and protects your Heart
  • Relieves Pain and Reduces Depression
  • Improves your Breathing and Blood Circulation
  • Helps You Lose Weight
  • Boosts your Relationships

15th May: INTERNATIONAL DAY OF FAMILIES

The International Day of Families is an occasion to reflect on the work started during 1994, the Year of the Family, and to celebrate the importance of families.

Is the family in crisis?

There is a widespread perception at the present time that something has gone wrong with the family. High rates of divorce, increased marital conflict, rising crime, drug-taking and anti-social behaviour among the young, are all taken as evidence that the family and the social values on which it is based are in decline.

Pope Francis speaks:

“For most of us, the family provides the principal place where we can aspire to greatness as we strive to realize our full capacity for virtue and charity. At the same time, as we know, families give rise to tensions: between egoism and altruism, reason and passion, immediate desires and long-range goals.”

Declining family values and divorce affect those who suffer the most—women, children, and the elderly: “We now live in a culture of the temporary, in which more and more people are simply giving up on marriage as a public commitment.”

How to Observe the International Day of Families 

  1. Volunteer with your family

For example: join an organization that builds houses for those in need. Build a house for a family while bonding with yours.

  1. Reflect on just what family means to you

Family isn’t always blood. It is the people in your life who want you in theirs; the ones who accept you for who you are. The ones who love you no matter what! Think about what family really means to you, and how you can get closer to the people you love.

  1. Organize a community family picnic

There might be many families in your neighborhood that would love to get to know one another but just haven’t figured out the best way to. Plan a picnic together.

  1. What do people do?

A wide range of events can be organized at local, national and international levels. These include:

  • workshops, seminars, exhibitions
  • educational sessions for children and young people;
  • policy meetings for public officials and launching of campaigns to strengthen and support family units.

Family is what God gives to us. The Family Day is what we can give to one another!

Another Special Day in May: 13th May: Mother’s Day. Don’t forget to do something special for your mother!


Sr Esme Da Cunha FDCC

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Special Days

SPECIAL DAYS

April 16

April 7

WORLD HEALTH DAY

“Health for all” has been the guiding principle of the World Health Organization (WHO) from the time it came into existence seventy years ago. In this 70th anniversary year, WHO has chosen “Universal health coverage for everyone, everywhere” as the theme for the World Health Day.

Universal health coverage means ensuring that all people can get quality health services, where and when they need them, without thereby being pushed into poverty. No one should be forced into a situation to choose between good health and other necessities of life. However, it does not mean free coverage for all possible health interventions, regardless of the cost, as no country can provide all services free of charge on a sustainable basis.

Healthcare in India

The healthcare system in India is scandalously lopsided. While we boast of super-specialty hospitals that attract foreign patients, the vast majority of our people cannot afford the high cost of such private healthcare. At the same time, the facilities and care available in government hospitals are so poor that even the poor are forced to seek treatment in private hospitals.

Health is getting increasingly unaffordable for the poor in India. Most healthcare expenses are paid out-of-pocket by patients and their families, rather than through insurance. In fact, India has the highest out-of-pocket private healthcare costs among many other comparable developing nations. This pushes many households into poverty. Often the sad fact is that those threatened by poverty merely forgo healthcare because of the unaffordable charges.

While 70 percent of India’s population live in rural areas, only 3 percent of the doctor population live there. Nearly 75 percent of dispensaries, 60 percent of hospitals and 80 percent of doctors are located in urban areas, serving only 28 percent of the population.

Unaffordable drug prices

India is one of the world’s largest drug manufacturing countries. It exports medicines to more than 200 countries worldwide. In spite of that, more than half of its population has no access to essential medications in its government hospitals. Studies show that medicines in India are overpriced and unaffordable. The margin in sales is extremely high, often ranging from 1,000 percent to 4,000 percent.

In this situation, universal health coverage is the urgent need of the moment for the poor of the world and for India.

APRIL 22

EARTH DAY

Planet Earth, our common home, is under threat – a threat of slow destruction through relentless pollution, caused mostly by human beings. Earth Day is observed every year to draw the world’s attention to the destructive effects of pollution on us and our dear Planet. The only way to save it from extinction is to stop pollution–water pollution, soil pollution, noise pollution, plastic pollution, and what not. The theme chosen for this year’s Earth Day celebration is “END PLASTIC POLLUTION.”

Plastic, that wonder material that we use for everything, entered our world only about a hundred years ago. It is cheap, light and, in many ways, a useful thing. Yet it is a most harmful and impossible-to-get-rid-of pollutant, for the simple reason that it is non-biodegradable or degrades very slowly in the natural environment. Scientists believe that plastic takes 500 to 1000 years to degrade! Therefore, all the plastic that was created in the last one hundred years is still there in our environment, in some form or other, causing untold harm. The major chemicals that go into the making of plastic are highly toxic. The exponential growth of plastics is threatening the survival of all living beings and our planet itself. There is a growing tidal wave of interest in ending plastic pollution across the world.

Solution to Plastic Pollution

  1. Educate people about the risks associated with the use and disposal of plastics.
  2. Educate people to take personal responsibility for plastic pollution by choosing to reject plastic, or reduce the use of it, or reuse it whenever possible.
  3. Mobilize and activate citizens to demand that governments and corporations control and clean up plastic pollution.
  4. Eliminate altogether single-use plastics (e.g., plastic water bottles and cups).
  5. Encourage people to switch over to nature-friendly bags made of paper, cloth, jute etc. for shopping and other purposes.

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Special Days

SPECIAL DAYS IN MARCH

March 05

The February issue of MAGNET listed the Special Days proposed by the UN to promote common action. Here we give more information on the Special Days of this month. May we grow in awareness of key issues affecting all of us, and take appropriate action in time.

WOMEN’S DAY (March 8)

Women’s Day has been observed across the world for over a hundred years. The original aim of the International Women’s Day was to achieve gender equality for women. Sadly, this is still a faraway dream. According to World Economic Forum, at the current rate of progress, the global gender gap will take another 217 years to close!

Women remain disadvantaged in almost every area of life. Discrimination against the girl child begins from the birth itself. Boys are preferred to girls; hence, female infanticide is a common practice in India.

In developing countries like India, women do most of the “unpaid” work—child care, cooking, cleaning and farming. Most girls are burdened with household work from childhood, often at the cost of education.

Swami Vivekananda said, “There is no chance for the welfare of the world unless the condition of women is improved; it is not possible for a bird to fly on only one wing.” To become a developed country, India needs to transform its colossal women force into an effective human resource.

Violence against women

The inequality is most horribly expressed in the form of violence against women. Surprisingly, domestic violence is one of its most prevailing forms.

Rape is the fourth most common crime against women in India. According to the National Crime Records Bureau, 24,923 rape cases were reported across India in 2012.

Dowry violence and dowry deaths are another horrible form of domestic violence in India.  In 2011, the Crime Records Bureau reported 8,618 dowry deaths, while unofficial reports suggest the numbers may be three times higher.

The theme for Women’s Day 2018 is “Time is Now: Rural and urban activists transforming women’s lives.” It is an occasion to empower women in all settings, and to celebrate the activists working relentlessly to claim women’s rights and realize their full potential. Education of girls is the key to empowerment of women. As Malala Yousafzai said in her UN speech, “One child, one teacher, one pen and one book can change the world.”  

WORLD WATER DAY (March 22)

Water forms two-thirds of our body; it is essential for every organ, cell and tissue. Water circulates through the land, transporting, dissolving, replenishing nutrients and organic matter, while carrying away waste material. Water is essential for sustaining every form of life. Yet, the shocking fact is that the quantity and quality of available water is depleting day by day! Humanity is already in the throes of a water crisis.

Consider the following facts:

  • Oceans account for 97% of all water found on earth.
  • Only 3% of all water on earth is freshwater (i.e., suitable for human use). But most of it is locked away in the form of ice caps and glaciers in the polar regions–and therefore not accessible.
  • Only about 1% of all water found on the planet is accessible for human use.
  • It takes three litres of water to produce one litre of bottled water!
  • Most canals, rivers, lakes and surface water in India are polluted.
  • As much as 50% of freshwater is wasted in India as a result of leakages and inefficient water management systems! About 65 percent of rain water in India ends up in the sea.
  • About 1.5 million children die each year because of water-related diseases.
  • Yet the “human right to water” accepted by the UN and member countries entitles everyone to sufficient, safe, physically accessible and affordable water for personal and domestic uses. It also obliges governments to provide water to people.
  • Simple things like turning off the tap while brushing your teeth, fixing leaks, using low discharge toilets and faucets, etc., can make a huge difference.

The theme for World Water Day 2018 is “Nature for Water: exploring nature-based solutions to the water challenges in the 21st century.”

Solution: Let’s stop water wastage. Let’s stop water pollution. Save water, save life!


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