Woman is the companion of man, gifted with equal mental capacity… If by strength is meant moral power, then woman is immeasurably man’s superior… If non-violence is the law of our being, the future is with women…– Mahatma Gandhi
Every year on March 8th, people around the world celebrate the International Women’s Day (IWD) which was originally known as the International Working Women’s Day.
In 1975, during International Women’s Year, the United Nations began celebrating International Women’s Day on March 8th. Two years later, in December 1977, the United Nations General Assembly recognized the role of women in peace efforts and development and urged an end to discrimination and increase support for women’s full and equal participation. To this to effect, the General Assembly adopted a resolution proclaiming a United Nations Day for Women Rights and International Peace observed on any day of the year according to their historical and national traditions by the Member States.
The 2016 theme for International Women’s Day is “Planet 50-50 by 2030: Step It Up for Gender Equality”.
Today, on March 8, 2016, UN Women Deputy Executive Director Lakshmi Puri will ring the opening bell at the New York Stock Exchange in New York at 9 a.m.
The United Nations observance on March 8 will reflect on how to accelerate the 2030 Agenda, building momentum for the effective implementation of the new Sustainable Development Goals. It will equally focus on new commitments under UN Women’s Step It Up initiative, and other existing commitments on gender equality, women’s empowerment and women’s human rights.
Here is a video bearing a message from Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka, the Executive Director of UN Women.
Woman is the companion of man, gifted with equal mental capacity… If by strength is meant moral power, then woman is immeasurably man’s superior… If non-violence is the law of our being, the future is with women… – Mahatma Gandhi
On March 8th every year, the day originally known as the International Working Women’s Day, people around the world celebrate International Women’s Day (IWD).
In 1975, during International Women’s Year, the United Nations began celebrating International Women’s Day on March 8th. Two years later, in December 1977, the United Nations General Assembly recognized the role of women in peace efforts and development and urged an end to discrimination and increase support for women’s full and equal participation. To this to effect, the General Assembly adopted a resolution proclaiming a United Nations Day for Women Rights and International Peace observed on any day of the year according to their historical and national traditions by Member States.
The International Women’s Day 2015 celebrated globally today will highlight the Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action, a historic roadmap signed by 189 governments 20 years ago that sets the agenda for realizing women’s rights. While there have been many achievements since then, many serious gaps remain.
On this day, the focus is on upholding women’s achievements, recognize challenges, and pay greater attention to women’s rights and gender equality to mobilize all people to do their part. The Beijing Platform for Action focuses on 12 critical areas of concern, and envisions a world where each woman and girl can exercise her choices, such as participating in politics, getting an education, having an income, and living in societies free from violence and discrimination.
To this end, the theme of this year’s International Women’s Day is the clarion call of UN Women’s Beijing+20 campaign “Empowering Women, Empowering Humanity: Picture it!”
A century ago, the above poster in German for International Women’s Day, March 8th, 1914, proclaimed:
“Give Us Women’s Suffrage. Women’s Day, March 8, 1914. Until now, prejudice and reactionary attitudes have denied full civic rights to women, who as workers, mothers, and citizens wholly fulfill their duty, who must pay their taxes to the state as well as the municipality. Fighting for this natural human right must be the firm, unwavering intention of every woman, every female worker. In this, no pause for rest, no respite is allowed. Come all, you women and girls, to the 9th public women’s assembly on Sunday, March 8, 1914, at 3pm.”
Today, though equality for women has made positive gains, still inequality remains in most part of the world.
Women’s rights activists across the world celebrate International Women’s Day (IWD) annually on March 8; and this day has been marked by the United Nations since 1975.
The official United Nations theme for International Women’s Day 2014 is “Equality for women is progress for all.”
The first National Women’s Day was observed on February 28, 1909 in the United States following a declaration by the Socialist Party of America.
The day developed as a Socialist political event, and was formerly called International Working Women’s Day. The earliest observances of the day were held on different dates: May 3, 1908, in Chicago; February 28th, 1909, and on February 27, 1910, in New York.
The Working Women’s Day was celebrated primarily in Russia, and to a certain extent in many other countries in Europe. In some countries, the day became an amalgamation of Mother’s Day and Valentine’s Day, and for men to express their gratitude and love for women.
In August 1910, before the general meeting of the Socialist Second International in Copenhagen, an International Women’s Conference was organized. At that conference, German Socialist Luise Zietz proposed to institute an annual “International Woman’s Day” (note it is singular) as to promote equal rights, including suffrage, for women. The proposition was seconded by fellow socialist and later communist leader Clara Zetkin. However, no date was fixed then. A Hundred woman delegates from 17 countries agreed to the motion.
The following year, on March 19, 1911, for the first time, over a million people in Austria, Denmark, Germany and Switzerland observed IWD. There were around 300 demonstrations in the Austro-Hungarian Empire. In Vienna, women paraded on the Ringstraße (Ringstrasse) carrying banners to honour the martyrs of the Paris Commune.
Women demanded that women be given the right to vote and to hold public office. They also protested against discrimination for employment based on gender.
The American women, however, continued to celebrate its National Women’s Day on the last Sunday in February. In 1913, Russian women too observed their first International Women’s Day on the last Sunday in February, according to the Julian calendar then used in Russia.
There were some women-led strikes, marches, and other protests in the years leading up to 1914, but none of them took place on March 8.
In 1914 International Women’s Day was held on March 8, presumably because that day was a Sunday. From then on IWD is always held on March 8 in all countries.
International Women’s Day 2014 is the subject of the latest doodle displayed on Google’s home page. The Doodle video features over a 100 inspiring women from around the world. It includes the president of Lithuania, a brave Pakistani education activist, the most recorded artist in music history and an ever-curious explorer. The full list of women in this video on our doodle site.
I wish all children in India “A Happy Children’s Day!”
In 1925, The World Conference for the Well-being of Children in Geneva, Switzerland, proclaimed June 1 as International Children’s Day and then established universally in 1954. Now, many countries around the world, celebrate Children’s Day, but on different days each year.
Universal Children’s Day
A major global variant of Children’s Day is the Universal Children’s Day celebrated on November 20 every year.
The United Nations General Assembly recommended this day in 1954 to urge all its member countries to institute a day, with the aim to promote mutual exchange and understanding among children, and to initiate action to help and promote the welfare of children globally as outlined in the Charter.
Today, November 14, India celebrates Children’s Day. On this day, India remembers and honours the country’s first Prime Minister Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru. The children of India fondly called him “Chacha Nehru” (Hindi: चाचा नेहरू)) or Uncle Nehru.
Nehru consistently emphasized the importance of showering love and affection on children. He saw in them the future of India.
On Children’s Day, the Kids in India engage themselves in the fun and frolic. Various educational, cultural, social, institutions organize functions and conduct competitions for children all over the country. The State and the Central governments organize film festivals in many parts of the country to showcase Children’s films.
In many schools, the children themselves arrange the cultural activities on this day. Teachers also get involved; in many schools, they sing and dance for their students.
Every year, India Post issues special stamps of paintings by children and First Day Covers for commemorating Children’s Day in India. Here are the commemorative stamps issued from year 2006 to 2012. Please note that these images of the postage stamps are not to scale.
“A world free of nuclear weapons would be a global public good of the highest order.”
– Ban Ki-moon, UN Secretary-General
Nuclear weapons testing began with the first test on July 16, 1945 by the United States of America. Since then, nearly 2,000 nuclear tests have taken place. There has been scant consideration of the devastating effects of nuclear testing on human life, and no clear understanding of nuclear fallout from atmospheric tests. In the early years, having nuclear weapons meant scientific sophistication and military might.
Today’s nuclear weapons are far more powerful and destructive. History has brought to light the terrifying and tragic effects of testing nuclear weapons, especially when controlled conditions go astray.
On September 10, 1996, the United Nations General Assembly adopted the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty (CTBT) – the main mechanism for eradicating nuclear weapons testing by a large majority, exceeding two-thirds of the General Assembly’s Membership. It opened for signature in New York on September 24, 1996, and 71 States signed it, including five of the eight then nuclear-capable states. This international instrument, to put an end to all forms of nuclear testing has yet to enter into force. To date, 183 countries have signed the treaty and 159 have ratified and another 24 states have signed, but not ratified it. For the Treaty to come into force, States with significant nuclear capabilities must ratify it. There are still eight countries that will not ratify: China, Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, Egypt, India, Iran, Israel, Pakistan and the United States.
Subsequent incidents worldwide brought about the need to observe an International Day against Nuclear Tests.
The 64th session of the United Nations General Assembly held on December 2, 2009, declared 29 August as the International Day against Nuclear Tests through the unanimous adoption of its resolution 64/35 . The Preamble of the resolution emphasizes that “every effort should be made to end nuclear tests to avert devastating and harmful effects on the lives and health of people” and that “the end of nuclear tests is one of the key means of achieving the goal of a nuclear-weapon-free world.”
The resolution was initiated by the Republic of Kazakhstan, together with a large number of sponsors and cosponsors to commemorate the closure of the Semipalatinsk Nuclear Test site on 29 August 1991 where the Soviet Union conducted 456 nuclear tests from 1949 until 1989 with little regard for their effect on the local people or environment.
The year 2010 marked the inaugural commemoration of the International Day against Nuclear Tests. Since then, each year, August 29th,has been observed as the International Day against Nuclear Tests by coordinating various activities throughout the world, such as symposia, conferences, exhibits, competitions, publications, instruction in academic institutions, media broadcasts and others. A number of events have been held at United Nations Headquarters, as well. Similar activities are planned for the 2013 observance.
Ban Ki-moon, UN Secretary-General has clearly stated: “A world free of nuclear weapons would be a global public good of the highest order.”
Today, is the first Sunday of August and we in India are celebrating Friendship Day. For many years, people the world over have celebrated Friendship Day.
It has become a popular tradition for friends to exchange gifts, flowers, greeting cards and wrist bands on Friendship Day.
Friendship Day was originally promoted in 1930 by Joyce C. Hall, the founder of Hallmark cards. He intended to celebrate it on August 2nd. Though the Friendship Day was initially promoted by the greeting card industry, the growth of the internet and proliferation of mobile phones have made it easier to greet friends than ever before. Advent of social networking sites, helps people to celebrate Friendship Day online/
On 20 July 1958 by Dr. Artemio Bracho was the first to propose the idea of a World Friendship Day during a dinner with friends in Puerto Pinasco, Paraguay. Out of this humble meeting of friends, the World Friendship Crusade that promotes friendship and fellowship among all human beings, regardless of race, colour or religion was born. Since then, 30 July has been faithfully celebrated as Friendship Day in Paraguay every year and has also been adopted by several other countries.
In 1998, in honour of Friendship Day Nane Annan, wife of UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan, named Winnie the Pooh as the world’s Ambassador of Friendship at the United Nation. The event was co-sponsored by the U.N. Department of Public Information and Disney Enterprises, and was co-hosted by Kathy Lee Gifford.
On 27 April 2011 the General Assembly of the United Nations drew a draft resolution on International Day of Friendship that designated 30 July as the International Day of Friendship:
International Day of Friendship
The General Assembly,
Recalling the goals and objectives of its Declaration and Programme of Action on a Culture of Peace and the International Decade for a Culture of Peace and Non-Violence for the Children of the World (2001-2010), and all its relevant resolutions,
Recognizing the relevance and importance of friendship as a noble and valuable sentiment in the lives of human beings around the world,
Bearing in mind that friendship between peoples, countries, cultures and individuals can inspire peace efforts and presents an opportunity to build bridges between communities, honouring cultural diversity,
Affirming that friendship can contribute to the efforts of the international community, in accordance with the Charter of the United Nations, towards the promotion of dialogue among civilizations, solidarity, mutual understanding and reconciliation,
Convinced of the importance of involving youth and future leaders in community activities aimed at the inclusion of and respect between different cultures, while promoting international understanding, respect for diversity and a culture of peace, in accordance with the Declaration and Programme of Action on a Culture of Peace,
Noting that friendship-related activities, events and initiatives are observed each year in many countries,
1. Decides to designate 30 July as the International Day of Friendship;
2. Invites all Member States, organizations of the United Nations system and other international and regional organizations, as well as civil society, including non-governmental organizations and individuals, to observe the International Day of Friendship in an appropriate manner, in accordance with the culture and other
appropriate circumstances or customs of their local, national and regional communities, including through education and public awareness-raising activities;
3. Requests the Secretary-General to bring the present resolution to the attention of all Member States and organizations of the United Nations system.
Though the General Assembly of the United Nations designated 30 July as the official International Day of Friendship, some countries, including India, celebrate Friendship Day on the first Sunday of August.
In Oberlin, Ohio, Friendship Day is celebrated on 8 April each year.
Woman is the companion of man, gifted with equal mental capacity… If by strength is meant moral power, then woman is immeasurably man’s superior… If non-violence is the law of our being, the future is with women… – Mahatma Gandhi
On March 8th every year, the day originally known as the International Working Women’s Day, people around the world celebrate International Women’s Day (IWD) focusing on respect, appreciation and love towards women and to celebrate the achievements of women in economic, political and social arena without regard to divisions, whether national, ethnic, linguistic, cultural, economic or political. It is an occasion for looking back on past struggles and accomplishments of women, and for looking ahead to the untapped potential and opportunities that await future generations of women.
This day was originally known as the International Working Women’s Day. In 1975, during International Women’s Year, the United Nations began celebrating International Women’s Day on March 8th. Two years later, in December 1977, the United Nations General Assembly recognized the role of women in peace efforts and development and urged an end to discrimination and increase support for women’s full and equal participation. To this to effect, the General Assembly adopted a resolution proclaiming a United Nations Day for Women Rights and International Peace observed on any day of the year according to their historical and national traditions by Member States.
This year’s theme for International Women’s Day: “A promise is a promise: Time for action to end violence against women” seeks to strengthen international community’s commitment to put an end to violence against women – a gross human rights violation that affects up to 70% women.
As part of the effort the UN leads to fight violence against women, UNiTE campaign, the United Nations Secretary-Generals Ban Ki-moon’s “Unite to End Violence Against Women” calls on all governments, civil society, women’s organizations, men, young people, the private sector, the media and the entire UN system to join forces in addressing this global pandemic.
The song “One Woman” written for UN Women and performed by acclaimed singers and musicians from China to Costa Rica, from Mali to Malaysia spreads a message of unity and solidarity. The song is a rallying cry to inspire listeners to join the drive for women’s rights and gender equality, and overcome violence and discrimination against women.
Child soldiers are “more obedient, do not question orders and are easier to manipulate than adult soldiers.”
The exploitation of children in the ranks of the world’s armies must end, says a new United Nations report. “One of the most alarming trends in armed conflict is the participation of children as soldiers,” declares the report, by Graça Machel, the Secretary-General’s Expert on the Impact of Armed Conflict on Children.
The report says the use of child soldiers is a problem created by adults, to be eradicated by adults. It calls for a global campaign to demobilize all child soldiers and to “eradicate the use of children under the age of 18 years in the armed forces.” The report further calls upon governments to renounce the practice of forced recruitment, which has put increasing numbers of children under arms against their will.
“Children are dropping out of childhood,” commented Devaki Jain of India, one of Ms. Machel’s Eminent Persons’ Group of advisers. “We must envision a society free of conflict where children can grow up as children, not weapons of war.”
The use of child soldiers is hardly new. “Children serve armies in supporting roles as cooks, porters, messengers and spies,” the report notes. “Increasingly, however, adults are conscripting children as soldiers deliberately.” Children under 15 years of age are known to be serving in government or opposition forces in at least 25 conflict zones and it is estimated that some 200,000 child soldiers under 16 years of age saw armed combat in 1988. Generally, however, child soldiers are statistically invisible as governments and armed opposition groups deny or downplay their role.
The 1989 Convention on the Rights of the Child defines childhood as below the age of 18 years, although it currently recognizes 15 as the minimum age for voluntary or compulsory recruitment into the armed forces. However, momentum is building for an Optional Protocol to the Convention that would raise the minimum age to 18.
With new weapons that are lightweight and easy to fire, children are more easily armed, with less training than ever before. Moreover, as was stated in one background paper prepared for the Machel report, child soldiers are “more obedient, do not question orders and are easier to manipulate than adult soldiers.” And they usually don’t demand pay.
A series of 24 case-studies on child soldiers, covering conflicts over the past 30 years, makes it clear that tens of thousands of children — many under the age of 10 — have been recruited into armies around the world. In Liberia, children as young as seven have been found in combat, while in Cambodia, a survey of wounded soldiers found that 20 per cent of them were between the ages of 10 and 14 when recruited. In Sri Lanka, of 180 Tamil Tiger guerrillas killed in one government attack, more than half were still in their teens, and 128 were girls. Solid statistics are hard to come by, however, as most armies and militia do not want to admit to their use of child soldiers.
According to the report, children are often press-ganged from their own neighbourhoods where local militia or village leaders may be obliged to meet recruitment quotas. In the Sudan, children as young as 12 have been rounded up from buses and cars. In Guatemala, youngsters have been grabbed from streets, homes, parties, and even violently removed from churches. In the 1980s, the Ethiopian military practised a ‘vacuum cleaner’ approach, recruiting boys, sometimes at gunpoint, from football fields, markets, religious festivals or on the way to school.
The report deplores the fact that children are often deliberately brutalized in order to harden them into more ruthless soldiers. In some conflicts, children have been forced to commit atrocities against their own families. In Sierra Leone, for example, the Revolutionary United Front forced captured children to take part in the torture and execution of their own relatives, after which they were led to neighbouring villages to repeat the slaughter. Elsewhere, before battle young soldiers have been given amphetamines, tranquillizers and other drugs to “increase their courage” and to dull their sensitivity to pain.
Some children become soldiers simply to survive. In war-ravaged lands where schools have been closed, fields destroyed, and relatives arrested or killed, a gun is a meal ticket and a more attractive alternative to sitting home alone and afraid. Sometimes a minor soldier’s pay is given directly to the family.
For girls, recruitment may lead to sex slavery. The report notes that in Uganda, for instance, young girls abducted by rebel forces were commonly divided up and allocated to soldiers to serve as their ‘wives’. A case-study from Honduras, prepared for the Machel report, illustrates one child’s experience of joining armed groups:
“At the age of 13, I joined the student movement. I had a dream to contribute to make things change, so that children would not be hungry … later I joined the armed struggle. I had all the inexperience and fears of a little girl. I found out that girls were obliged to have sexual relations ‘to alleviate the sadness of the combatants. And who alleviated our sadness after going with someone we hardly knew? At my young age I experienced abortion … In spite of my commitment, they abused me, they trampled my human dignity. And above all, they did not understand that I was a child and that I had rights.”
It is difficult to reintegrate demobilized children after a peace settlement is reached. Many have been physically or sexually abused by the very forces for which they have been fighting, and have seen their parents killed, sometimes in the most brutal manner, in front of their eyes. Most have also been led into participating in murder, rape and other atrocities. These children have no skills for life in peacetime and they are accustomed to getting their way through violence.
The report urges that all future peace agreements include specific measures pertaining to the demobilization and reintegration of child soldiers, ranging from job creation and the rebuilding of schools, to the training of teachers who are sensitive to the special needs of child victims of war.
The report calls on governments to regularize recruitment procedures for their armed forces and to prosecute violators to ensure that under-age recruitment does not occur. The Machel report also illustrates how the recruitment of children can at least be minimized when parents and communities are better informed about existing national and international law.
While much remains to be done, there have been some successes. In Peru, for example, forced recruitment drives reportedly declined in areas where they were denounced by parish churches. And in Myanmar, protests from aid agencies led to the release of boys forcibly recruited from a refugee camp. In the Sudan, humanitarian organizations have negotiated agreements with opposition groups to prevent the recruitment of children.
“All human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights. They are endowed with reason and conscience and should act towards one another in a spirit of brotherhood.” – Article 1 of the United Nations Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR)
During the Second World War, the allies adopted the following Four Freedoms, as their basic war aims:
Freedom of speech
Freedom of religion
Freedom from fear
Freedom from want
The United Nations Charter “reaffirmed faith in fundamental human rights, and dignity and worth of the human person” and committed all member states to promote “universal respect for, and observance of, human rights and fundamental freedoms for all without distinction as to race, sex, language, or religion.”
After the Second World War, the world became aware of the atrocities committed by Nazi Germany. The world community concurred that the United Nations Charter did not sufficiently define the rights it referenced above. Hence arose the necessity for an universal declaration that specified the rights of individuals to give effect to the Charter’s provisions on human rights.
At the 317th Plenary Meeting of the General Assembly on 4 December 1950, the members decided to celebrate Human Rights Day on December 10 every year because on December 10, 1948, the United Nations General Assembly adopted and proclaimed the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. It was the first worldwide proclamation of human rights, and also one of the major achievements of the new United Nations. The General Assembly declared resolution 423(V), inviting all member states and any other interested organizations to celebrate the day.
Traditionally, on December 10th, the five-yearly United Nations Prize in the Field of Human Rights and Nobel Peace Prize are awarded.
This year, the spotlight is on the rights of all people – women, youth, minorities, persons with disabilities, indigenous people, the poor and marginalized and to make their voices heard in public life and to include them in political decision-making.