Archive for February, 2013

World Day of Social Justice

World Day of Social Justice

World Day of Justice is held annually on February 20th. It was approved as a world-recognized holiday by the United Nations in 2007, and it officially went into effect in February 2009. The purpose is not only to recognize social justice across all countries, but participants are welcome to collaborate with the U.N.’s World Summit for Social Development to help achieve related goals.

While it is one of the newest holidays in recent history, this day recognizes worldwide issues that people have struggled with for centuries. Basic human rights are withheld in certain regions due to differences in economic statuses, gender, ethnicity, culture, age, race, disability and religion. Withholding basic rights is not only inhumane, but such division is impossible in terms of achieving peace among all nations. World Day of Justice aims to uphold the U.N.’s mission of equal human rights while helping nations set goals to achieve peace and better living conditions for all.

History

On November 26, 2007, the United Nations General Assembly proclaimed February 20th as World Day of Justice. This holiday has been years in the making, and it originally stems from the development of the Copenhagen Declaration and Program of Action, which was drafted at 1995’s World Summit for Social Development. In 2005, the United Nations looked at the Declaration and unanimously decided to put forth concrete efforts to promote worldwide social justice. Two years later, a vote helped form World Day of Social Justice.

Goals

Peace has been a long-sought after idea that has yet to be fulfilled. While many western nations have promoted peace through democracy, there is a great deal of social injustice throughout all nations. The United Nations established World Day of Social Justice as a way to highlight such injustices to increase awareness of divisions between people. Examples include lack of access to healthcare, water, food and good employment on the basis of differences in backgrounds.

Ultimately, division is what sparks battles and wars. The oppressed stand up for their rights, while their governments may attempt to fight back against them. Sadly, many lives are lost over fights for justice, and some battles are not won on behalf of the oppressed. Peace cannot be achieved unless everyone has equal rights to basic resources—World Day of Social Justice seeks to raise awareness to help promote equality for all.

Celebrations

While World Day of Social Justice is a holiday, it is more of a day for observance and call to action. People across the world recognize the goals this holiday promotes, including leaders within governments. At the same time, it is not a public holiday, so all government entities remain open during this day.

World Day of Social Justice is celebrated in a number of ways. Schools and universities are particularly active in the celebrations, as the youth tend to be more open and determined to create solutions for social equality than older generations. With that being said, this holiday is not exclusive to the youth, as this would directly contradict the goals set fort for World Day of Social Justice. It is up to citizens of all ages to be thoughtful of their actions and reflect as to whether their societies promote the welfare of all.

By: Kristeen Moore

Read Across America Day

Read Across America Day

Read Across America Day is a holiday that encourages reading for all ages. While the focus is on children who are in the middle of mastering reading skills, book lovers young and old participate in this special day. It falls on March 2nd, which is the same day as Dr. Seuss’s birthday. Schools heavily promote this holiday, but it is also equally important for parents to encourage participation from all at home.

History

Read Across America Day was founded by the National Education Association (NEA) in 1997. The NEA is an organization of current and retired teachers and other education professionals, as well as parents and prospective teachers. The group unanimously voted on an idea for a holiday that would promote reading and literacy of all ages on a national scale. Subsequently, the very first Read Across America Day was celebrated on March 2, 1998.

Many symbols are linked to the holiday. The NEA’s national symbol is often utilized in promotional materials, as well as graphics of books and children reading.

Impact of Dr. Seuss

Before Read Across America Day could officially launch, members of the NEA had to choose an appropriate date. March 2nd was chosen because it was the same date as the birthday of the beloved children’s author, Dr. Seuss.

Born Theodor Seuss Geisel, Dr. Seuss remains one of the most popular children’s books author of all time. He is famous for classics, such as Green Eggs and Ham, The Cat in the Hat, How the Grinch Stole Christmas, Ten Apples Up on Top and Horton Hears a Who. These stories are not only silly and fun in nature, but the rhyming has helped children learn how to read over the years. In fact, many of Seuss’s books are published today with icons on the covers to help parents indicate whether the particular title is a good independent read, or if it is more appropriate to read together. Children and adults both love these classic books.

Dr. Seuss died at 87 years old in 1991. Since his death, his birthday has been observed to celebrate children’s literature. When the NEA decided to take the celebrations a step further by creating a national Read Across America Day, citizens were more than happy to oblige.

Annual Celebrations

Since the holiday falls on Dr. Seuss’s birthday, much of the celebrations of Read Across America Day involve the famous children’s writer. Most schools allow students to wear Cat in the Hat hats, as well as silly socks or other famous wardrobe pieces from the author’s books. Some cafeterias even make green eggs and ham. Local libraries often participate through book fairs and special readings from children’s authors.

While schools tend to keep the celebrations silly and fun in nature to engage the kids, there are many more serious issues at stake when considering Read Across America Day. Millions of adults are illiterate because they did not have opportunities to read as children. This holiday promotes the importance of reading across all ages to help improve quality of life. Without essential reading skills, adults cannot complete day-to-day tasks or gain optimal employment.

Special Considerations

Read Across America Day is officially on March 2nd, which falls on the birthday of Dr. Seuss. However, due to the wide participation by schools, the day is celebrated on the closest weekday whenever the holiday falls on a Saturday or Sunday. For example, March 2, 2013 is on a Saturday, so schools will observe Read Across America Day on Friday, March 1st. In 2014, public schools will celebrate the day on Monday, March 3rd.

Read Across America Day Gift Ideas

International Women’s Day

International Women’s Day

International Women’s Day is observed annually on March 8th. This holiday is designed to celebrate women, but it also has many political intentions at its core. Unlike other female holidays, such as Mother’s Day, International Women’s Day is more than about love for women—it is designed to increase awareness of sexism and to promote equality between genders across the world. There are many ways to celebrate this day, and the traditions vary between countries.

Beginnings

International Women’s Day officially got its start in 1911, but other national holidays preceded this date. Prior to this time, the Socialist Party of America established a National Women’s Day in February, 1909. The purpose of the holiday was to promote equal rights for women and to protest sexism in the United States. German socialists took the concept a step further my establishing International Women’s Day, which was first celebrated on March 19, 1911. The holiday was extremely popular in Western Europe at this time, although the U.S. continued to stick with the national version of the women’s day at first. In 1913, the date for International Women’s Day was changed to March 8th, and it has been celebrated on this day ever since.

This holiday was predominantly observed in Europe until the United Nations started promoting it in the 1970s. 1975 was declared as International Women’s Year by the organization, and it held its very own women’s conference to discuss worldwide gender equality. The U.N. adopted the holiday, which was called the United Nations Day for Women’s Rights and International Peace. While the international group still refers to March 8 this way, the rest of the world largely regards the date simply as International Women’s Day.

While the holiday was originally started by socialist groups, International Women’s Day is not considered a socialist holiday. It has been adopted by countries of varying governments to help promote the rights of all citizens.

Common Celebrations

This holiday is celebrated in numerous ways. In many western nations, citizens partake in peaceful demonstrations to help promote women’s causes across the world. Others might take the day off from work or celebrate women by distributing flowers and gifts. While many symbols are utilized for this holiday, the most famous is a purple and white logo that features the goddess Venus.

Some women take the celebrations a step further through activism. A large part of this depends on the region, as some countries do not have the gender equality that other nations do. Protests are commonplace in some countries in the Middle East, Africa and Asia, where citizens work hard to promote equality. International Women’s Day helps to advocate equality in the workplace as well as in society.

March 8, 1917 is slated to be a monumental International Women’s Day. This date marks the hundredth anniversary of one of the most famous female-sparked protests in recent history: the Russian Revolution. The revolution got its start when courageous women took to the streets of St. Petersburg to protest bread shortages.

Worldwide Observance

Most countries observe International Women’s Day. However, some countries have taken the celebrations a step further by recognizing March 8th as a public holiday. Russia, Armenia and Ukraine are just a few of the countries that close government offices and schools so that citizens can celebrate the day. Some businesses also close. The United States does not currently recognize International Women’s Day as a public holiday.

Sadly, women in certain regions are not permitted to participate in International Women’s Day due to oppression and differences in cultural views. While women have come a long way in terms of gaining equality, much more work is to be done. This holiday aims to increase awareness so women do not lose sight on the overall goals of equal rights.

By: Kristeen Moore