Equal Opportunities

MARCH

8 International Women's Day

Since 1975, the International Women’s Year, International Women's Day has been celebrated on March 8 to "commemorate the historic struggle to improve women’s lives." Celebrations are held worldwide, both locally and nationally.

Its origin dates back to March 8, 1857, when women in the garment and textile factories staged their first strike in New York City. In 1908, another group of New York women workers went on strike at the Colton Factory and took over the factory. They demanded equal pay for equal work, no work on Sunday, and a shorter workday. They were locked in and the building was set on fire. One hundred and twenty-nine women died in the fire.

21 International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination

It is observed to commemorate the peaceful demonstration in Sharpeville, South Africa, in 1960, against the Apartheid pass laws, when the police opened fire and killed 69 people.

It was proclaimed in 1966 by the UN General Assembly to call on the international community to redouble its efforts to eliminate all forms of racial discrimination.

APRIL

7 World Health Day

It marks the importance of health for a productive and happy life.

Reducing child mortality, improving maternal health and combating HIV/AIDS, malaria, and other diseases are among the UN Millennium Development Goals which all UN Member States have pledged to meet by the year 2015.

MAY

1 International Workers' Day (May Day)

Day of struggle to vindicate and honor the Chicago Martyrs, anarchist unionists killed in the United States for their participation in a strike that started on May 1, 1866, and continued for several days, in demand of an eight-hour workday.

28 International Day of Action for Women’s Health

Every year, the Women's Global Network for Reproductive Rights (in collaboration with members and campaign supporters) publishes a "Call for Action” to raise awareness and promote solidarity and action on the International Day of Action for Women's Health. In the 1990s, the “Call for Action” mostly addressed issues related to maternal mortality and morbidity. Since the late 1990s, the topics have been broadened to cover issues like health services, trade agreements, health sector reforms, the consequences of war, and AIDS.

JUNE

12 World Day Against Child Labor

This Day aims to mobilize people around the world against child labor in general and its worst forms, reflecting the local cultures and customs, encouraging the participation of authorities, the media, the civil society, and the general public.

SEPTEMBER

21 International Day of Peace

In 1981, the UN General Assembly declared that the opening day of its regular session in September "shall be officially dedicated and observed as the International Day of Peace and shall be devoted to commemorating and strengthening the ideals of peace both within and among all nations and peoples."

OCTOBER

7 World Day for Decent Work

This is a joint campaign supported by Union Network International, the International Trade Union Confederation, the Global Progressive Forum (GPF), Social Alert and Solidar. Its goals are to raise awareness of the issue of Decent Work (or dignified work) among citizens, policy-makers, and key institutions; to show that Decent Work is the only sustainable way out of poverty and is essential to strengthen democracy and social cohesion; and to place Decent Work at the center of economic, trade, financial, social, and development policies, at national, European, and international levels.

NOVEMBER

25 International Day for Elimination of Violence against Women

Since 1981, women activists for women’s rights have observed November 25 as the day for elimination of violence against women. This date was chosen to mark the brutal assassination, in 1960, of the three Mirabal sisters (political activists in the Dominican Republic) by order of Dominican ruler Rafael Trujillo (1930-1961).

The United Nations General Assembly proclaimed November 25 as the International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women following a petition from the Dominican Republic, which was endorsed by over sixty governments.

Beginning of the 16 Days of Activism Campaign

It started in 1991 when participants in the first Women’s Global Leadership Institute chose the dates November 25 and December 10—International Human Rights Day—to symbolically show that violence against women is a violation of human rights.

In 1999, the UN officially joined the campaign after designating November 25 as the International Day for Elimination of Violence against Women.

DECEMBER

1 World AIDS Day

It was proclaimed in 1998 by the World Health Organization.

Today, over 41 million people are living with HIV/AIDS. Combating HIV/AIDS, malaria, and other diseases is one of the UN Millennium Development Goals.

10 Human Rights Day

This date marks the day in 1948 when the General Assembly adopted the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Over time, a series of instruments and mechanisms have been developed to secure the supremacy of human rights and deal with violations of human rights wherever they take place.