Issue 12 Oct 2010


UN International Days for community activities

The United Nations was built on spiritual principles and universal values such as peace, human rights, human dignity and worth, justice, respect, good neighbourliness, freedom, respect for nature and shared responsibility.

This year we are featuring International Days in each month that could provide opportunities for partnership activities within our communities. In this issue we share ideas for:
World Habitat Day on October 4, World Mental Health
Day on October 10, International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women on November 25 and International Day of Persons with Disabilities on December 3, 2010.


October 4       World Habitat Day

The idea of World Habitat Day is to reflect on the state of our towns and cities and the basic right of all, to adequate shelter. It is also intended to remind the world of its collective responsibility for the future of the human habitat.

The United Nations chose the theme Better City, Better Life to highlight our collective vision of a sustainable urban world that harnesses the potential and possibilities, mitigates inequalities and disparities, and provides a safe home for people of all cultures and ages, both rich and poor.

It is projected that in the next generation, 70 percent of humanity will be living in towns and cities. So this is the time for us to look closely at urban life and how we can ensure our wellbeing on all levels. How can we live fit and healthy lives within our cities and towns? How can we develop our sense of a community and help build relationships within it? Are there members of our community who are isolated because of age, health or other factors? … and what can we do to help?

We could also use this day to focus on the issue of homelessness which is a reality in our cities. What can we do to help on both a long term and an immediate basis? What community organisations could we work with?

For more information see the UN website:

October 10     World Mental Health Day

World Mental Health Day raises public awareness about mental health issues. The Day promotes more open discussion of illnesses, and investments in prevention and treatment services. WHO statistics for 2002 show that 154 million people globally suffer from depression, only one form of mental illness.

Mental, neurological and behavioural disorders are common in all countries around the world, causing immense suffering and staggering economic and social costs. People with disorders are often subjected to social isolation, poor quality of life and higher death rates.

World Mental Health Day could be used to focus attention on the needs of people with mental health disorders, provide information and challenge discriminatory practices. The World Health Organisation has suggestions on their website at:

and has related videos. 


November 25
International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women

Violence against women and girls is a problem of pandemic proportions. At least one out of every three women around the world has been beaten, coerced into sex, or otherwise abused in her lifetime – with the abuser usually someone known to her.

Frequently abuse leads to mental and psychological problems for both women and children, as well as homelessness.

See the UN site for information at:

The International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women also launches the 16 Days of Activism Against Gender Violence, which runs through to 10 December, Human Rights Day.

The 16 Days of Activism Against Gender Violence is an international campaign that is used as an organising strategy by individuals and groups around the world to call for the elimination of all forms of violence against women. You can get involved on-line through the Centre for Women's Global Leadership at:

The Centre will also supply a free copy of an action kit that includes a bibliography and resource list, a list of suggested activities and supplemental information relevant to this year's theme.

December 3
International Day of Persons with Disabilities
The World Bank estimates that 20 per cent of the world’s poorest people have some kind of disability, and tend to be regarded in their own communities as the most disadvantaged.

The Day aims to promote a better understanding of disability issues with a focus on the rights of persons with disabilities and gains to be derived from the integration of persons with disabilities in every aspect of the political, social, economic and cultural life of their communities. The goal of full and effective participation of persons with disabilities in society and development was established by the World Programme of Action concerning Disabled Persons, adopted by the United Nations General Assembly in 1982.

The theme for 2010 is Keeping the promise: Mainstreaming disability in the Millennium Development Goals towards 2015 and beyond.

There are numerous ways in which TOS groups and individual members can support the intent of the International Day of Persons with Disabilities. The following ideas and more come from their website:

Involve: Observance of the Day provides opportunities for participation by all interested communities – governmental, non-governmental and the private sector – to focus upon catalytic and innovative measures to further implement international norms and standards related to persons with disabilities. Schools, universities and similar institutions can make particular contributions with regard to promoting greater interest and awareness among interested parties of the social, cultural, economic, civil and political rights of persons with disabilities.

Organise: Hold forums, public discussions and information campaigns in support of the Day focusing on disability issues and trends, and ways and means by which persons with disabilities and their families are pursuing independent lifestyles, sustainable livelihoods and financial security.

Celebrate: Plan and organise performances everywhere to showcase – and celebrate – the contributions by persons with disabilities to the societies in which they live, and convene exchanges and dialogues focusing on the rich and varied skills, interests and aspirations of persons with disabilities.

Take action: A major focus of the Day is practical action to further implement international norms and standards concerning persons with disabilities and to further their participation in social life and development on the basis of equality. The media have especially important contributions to make in support of the observance of the Day – and throughout the year – regarding appropriate presentation of progress and obstacles in implementing disability-sensitive policies, programmes and projects and to promote public awareness of the contributions by persons with disabilities.

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