March 8—International Women’s Day
International Women’s Day (IWD) was first recognized by the United Nations in 1975. The Theme for IWD 2023 is #EmbraceEquity — Equity isn't just a nice-to-have, it's a must-have. A focus on gender equity needs to be part of every society's DNA. And it's critical to understand the difference between equity and equality. The words equity and equality are often used interchangeably. Etymologically, the root word they share is aequus, meaning “even” or “fair” or “equal” - which led to equity being from the Latin aequitas, and equality from aequalitas. Yet, despite these similarities, equity and equality are inherently different concepts, and the IWD 2023 #EmbraceEquity campaign theme seeks to help forge worldwide conversation about this important issue and its impact.
Equality means each individual or group of people is given the same resources or opportunities.
Equity recognizes that each person has different circumstances, and allocates the exact resources and opportunities needed to reach an equal outcome.
An equal world is an enabled world. The theme aims at not only calling attention to inequalities faced by women every day, but urges each woman to stand for equality everywhere—in the Church, in the workplace, in society, in the halls of government, in the family etc. There can be no justice without equality. “We can actively choose to challenge stereotypes, fight bias, broaden perceptions, improve situations and celebrate women's achievements. Collectively, each one of us can help create a gender equal world.” Give the equity a huge embrace It's not just something we say. It's not just something we write about. It's something we need to think about, know, and embrace. It's what we believe in, unconditionally. Equity means creating an inclusive world. Each one of us can actively support and embrance equity within our own sphere of influence. We can all challenge gender stereotypes, call out discrimination, draw attention to bias, and seek out inclusion. Being included, and belonging, feels good and do the right thing to do. Collective activism is what drives change. From grassroots action to wide-scale momentum, we can all embrace equity. Everyone everywhere can play a part. Collectively, we can all forge positive change.
For more information go to: https://internationalwomensday.com/2023Theme
Oh, Holy One, as we celebrate the many ways in which women and girls contribute to creating a better world, we also acknowledge that much remains to be done to achieve true equality in all aspects of life and society. We ask your blessing as we stand together to call for and to work towards a gender equal world where every person can live up to her/his full potential.
March 21—Week of Solidarity Against Racism and Racial Discrimination
March 21st begins the UN week of solidarity against racism and racial discrimination. This date was chosen to remember the 69-people killed by police on March 21, 1960, at a peaceful demonstration against the apartheid "pass laws" in Sharpeville, South Africa. Racial and ethnic discrimination remains a major problem in many parts of the world. continue throughout the year and grow with each passing day! In 1979, the U.N. General Assembly adopted a program of measures to be implemented during the second half of the Decade to Combat Racism and Racial Discrimination. To mark this occasion, the General Assembly decided that a Week of Solidarity with Peoples Struggling Against Racism and Racial Discrimination, starting on March 21, would be held annually in all states.
Since then, the apartheid system in South Africa has been disassembled, racist laws and practices have been repealed in many countries, and we have established an international framework to combat racism following the International Convention on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination. The Convention is now approaching universal ratification, but too many people, communities, and societies in all regions still suffer from the injustices and stigma that racism brings.
The General Assembly repeats that all human beings are born free, have equal rights, and have the potential to contribute constructively to the development and well-being of their society. In its latest resolution, the General Assembly also focuses on the fact that any doctrine of racial superiority is scientifically flawed, morally condemned, socially unjust, dangerous, and must be rejected along with theories that attempt to define the existence of individual human races.
The United Nations has been concerned about this issue since the beginning, and the prohibition of racial discrimination is enshrined in all fundamental international human rights instruments. The principle of equality also requires states to take special initiatives to eliminate conditions that cause or contribute to the continuation of racial discrimination. One of those initiatives is the Week of Solidarity with Peoples Struggling Against Racism and Racial Discrimination. The flames of racial suspicion and distrust have often been fanned into conflagrations that have led to the deaths and outright genocide of countless communities the world over throughout history. It is long past time to begin to confront racism and ethnic discrimination wherever it is found. In this global world where all of us live, we must learn to depend on one another, trust one another and dialogue in order to understand each other. We must learn to live together in harmony, or we will all perish together, because all of us are interconnected. Let this week of solidarity
O God, we ask your blessing as we examine our own lives and discover what racial discrimination lives within our own hearts. Help us to recognize it and to take steps to root it out. Soften our hearts towards one another and grant us empathy, so that we become willing to reach out and share our stories with each other, in order to build understanding and compassion.
March 22—World Water Day
This Day was established in 1993 by the UN to raise awareness among all people about the need to protect and conserve the precious gift of water. The World Water Day 2023 campaign is now live. This year, the focus of the UN observance is on accelerating change to solve the water and sanitation crisis. The global campaign, called Be the change, encourages people to take action in their own lives to change the way they use, consume and manage water.
The promises made by individuals on the campaign website will contribute to the Water Action Agenda - a main outcome of the UN 2023 Water Conference, which opens on World Water Day, 22 March 2023.
The Water Action Agenda is a collection of voluntary commitments from governments, companies, organizations, institutions, coalitions and members of the public, designed to deliver rapid progress on internationally-agreed water and sanitation targets, most notably Sustainable Development Goal 6 (SDG 6): water and sanitation for all by 2030.
Currently, the world is seriously off track on SDG 6. The latest data show that governments must work on average four times faster to meet this Goal on time.
Dysfunction throughout the water cycle is undermining progress on all major global issues, from health to hunger, gender equality to jobs, education to industry, disasters to peace. Availability of fresh and clean drinking water requires that we take serious action to limit and stop progressive climate change. Rising sea levels is already pushing sea water inland, resulting in saltwater contamination of fresh, drinkable water sources. More efficient use of water, and reduction of greenhouse gasses are essential to our long-term survival. Learn—Share—Act. To read more about each of these go to: https://www.worldwaterday2023.org/
God, we thank you for the precious gift of Sister Water. As we learn more about what we can each do to conserve water and to keep it safe from contamination, motivate us to action for the common good. We know that water is essential to life on this planet. Help us to treat water with respect and to use it wisely.
March 25—International Day of Remembrance of the Victims of Slavery and the Transatlantic Slave Trade
The United Nations' (UN) International Day of Remembrance of the Victims of Slavery and the Transatlantic Slave Trade is on March 25 each year. It honors the lives of those who died as a result of slavery or experienced the horrors of the transatlantic slave trade. It is also an occasion to raise awareness about the dangers of racism and prejudice. Various events are held on the International Day of Remembrance of the Victims of Slavery and the Transatlantic Slave Trade. These include memorial services and vigils for those who died in slavery, as a result of the slave trade, or from campaigning to end of slavery. In addition, African-American inspired music is performed and exhibitions of art and poetry inspired during the slave trade era are opened.
This day is also an occasion to educate the public, especially young people, about the effects of racism, slavery and the transatlantic slave trade. Educational events are held in schools, colleges and universities. About 17 million people were transported against their will from Africa to North, Central and South America during the 16th century and up until the 19th century. Millions more died while being transported to the Americas. This mass deportation and resulting slavery are seen as one of the worst violations of human rights. Some experts believe that its effects are still felt in Africa's economies.
Slavery was officially abolished in the United States on February 1, 1865. However, racial segregation continued throughout most of the following century and racism remains an important issue today. Hence, the International Day of Remembrance of the Victims of Slavery and the Transatlantic Slave Trade is an occasion to discuss the transatlantic slave trade's causes, consequences and lessons. It is hoped that this will raise awareness of the dangers of racism and prejudice.
On December 17, 2007, the United Nations General Assembly designated March 25 as the International Day of Remembrance of the Victims of Slavery and the Transatlantic Slave Trade. It was first observed in 2008. This day is a special day for remembering—remembering all those who were sold into slavery as well as those who died during the treacherous Atlantic crossing. Only the strongest survived. Over the years, suffering, deprivation and family separation continued. Despite of all this, those who lived helped to build up whole societies. Their creativity and determination to be free kept hope alive, even when all seemed lost. After “freedom” came, discrimination and oppression continued. Indeed, these are legacies of the slave trade that still affect many individuals and societies today. This day is for honouring those who suffered, for remembering those who lived and those who died, and for addressing societal disparities that continue to affect all of us. In the UN resolution 62/122 which created this day of remembrance, the resolution also called for the establishment of an outreach program to mobilize educational institutions, civil society and other organizations to inculcate in future generations the "causes, consequences and lessons of the transatlantic slave trade, and to communicate the dangers of racism and prejudice."
God, we ask forgiveness for the suffering caused to so many people by the transatlantic slave trade. Heal us all of the racism that continues to divide us from one another. Help us to respect, honor and support one another as brothers and sisters, created to bring justice and love to our world. Help us to work for an end to all policies that seek to disenfranchise people from full participation in society based on race and /or ethnicity.
December 1—World AIDS Day
December 1, 2022 marks the 34th global World AIDS Day to raise awareness about the continued epidemic affecting over 38 million people currently living with HIV worldwide. In 2019, there were over 1.7 million new cases reported, and over 690,000 deaths. On this day, we remember all those who have died since the disease was first recognized in 1981. We honor the loved ones who cared for the dying in the early days of the pandemic, when no treatment was available and where an AIDS diagnosis usually meant swift and certain death. We are grateful care givers, healthcare workers and scientists who worked tirelessly to bring comfort and love to those infected, who sought to dispel the stigma that often surrounded the diagnosis and who searched for effective treatment and prevention. Today, over 68% of adults living with HIV are being treated with anti-retroviral agents. However, in many communities, the new corona virus pandemic has hampered distribution and access to these life-saving medications, putting many more lives at risk. The 2022 theme for World AIDS Day is “Global Solidarity-Resilient Services”. The World Health Organization (WHO) is calling on global leaders and citizens to rally for “global solidarity” to maintain essential HIV services during COVID 19 and beyond.
Holy One, bless all those living with HIV. May they know that they are cherished and loved. Bless the healthcare workers as they provide access to nutrition and medication that is necessary to control the virus. Keep them safe from COVID 19 as they reach out to those in need. Help each of us to continue to educate others on AIDS -prevention, the importance of early treatment and adequate nutrition, and the critical role of solidarity with those living with HIV and AIDS. Most of all, we pray for a world free from this virus.
December 3—International Day of Persons with Disabilities
December 3, “A Day for All”, is a day for raising awareness of, and helping to create real opportunities for, people with disabilities. This theme strives to awaken us to the fact that disability is part of the human condition. Almost everyone will be temporarily or permanently impaired at some point in life. Despite this, few countries have adequate mechanisms to respond fully to the needs of people with disabilities. Although “disability” often means “disadvantaged”, not all are equally disadvantaged. Much depends on the context in which persons live, and whether they have equal access to health, education and employment, etc. In February the WHO held a global gathering of rehabilitation experts entitled "Rehabilitation 2030". There, they garnered the commitment of participants to help governments build comprehensive service delivery models, develop a strong multidisciplinary workforce, expand financing mechanisms and enhance health information systems, all in an attempt to meet the ever-increasing demand for rehabilitation services. Hopefully, these efforts will lead to greater quality of life for all people. Disability inclusion is an essential condition to upholding human rights, sustainable development, and peace and security. It is also central to the promise of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development to leave no one behind. The commitment to realizing the rights of persons with disabilities is not only a matter of justice; it is an investment in our common future. When building back world economies following COVID 19, let us build back better so that all persons with disabilities can live fully!
God, we thank you for our health. We pray for all those living with disabilities. Whether disabilities are great or small, everyone deserves to be a participant in their own lives and in their communities. To contribute to the common good, all must have access to the means of participation. Help us to listen and respond to the needs of others so that everyone can share in building our common future for the good of all.
December 9—International Anti-corruption Day
Corruption involves an abuse of entrusted power by dishonest or unethical conduct that leads to personal gain. Corruption at all levels is a global problem that affects not only small communities, but societies as a whole. It robs organizations of their present security and wellbeing, and often makes building the future impossible. It is estimated that nearly a trillion dollars in bribes is paid worldwide annually, and much more is lost due to fraud and deceit. Terrorism and violence are often used to sustain corruption, robbing communities of the will to invest in their common future. Ridding the world of corruption is no small task and calls for active resistance by everyone. Refusing to participate in corruption and having safe places to report it and mechanisms to address it, are the first steps towards addressing this pervasive global problem.
God, we ask you to help us create just and free societies where every person and the environment are protected by just laws applied with transparency. Help each of us to have the courage to refuse to cooperate with corruption, so that all people may live in security and freedom. Inspire elected leaders to govern with integrity and to protect their people from corruption. Help us to expect and demand ethical behavior from all elected and religious leaders, employers, and civil servants.
December 10—World Human Rights Day
This day marks the beginning of a year-long celebration of the 74th anniversary of the UN Universal Declaration of Human Rights on December 10, 1948. This document proclaims that certain inalienable rights are inherent in every human being. Although it does not have the force of law, it has become the international standard by which nations have agreed to judge their own progress toward building equitable, just, peaceful and prosperous societies. It establishes the equal dignity and worth of every person as the foundation for a more just world. In the Christian tradition, this principle recognizes that every person is sacred. This year’s Human Rights Day theme relates to the COVID-19 pandemic and focuses on the need to “build back better” by ensuring that Human Rights are central to recovery efforts. We will reach our common global goals only if we are able to create equal opportunities for all, address the failures exposed and exploited by COVID-19, and apply human rights standards to tackle entrenched, systematic, and intergenerational inequalities, exclusion and discrimination.
We pray for all our brothers and sisters, that we may live in peace, without fear, and in harmony with one another and with creation. We pray for open hearts, that we may honor and cherish one another as brother and sisters and provide for the common good. May we stand up for human rights everywhere so that all people may live in peace and safety.
December 18—International Migrants Day
On December 18, 1990, the UN General Assembly adopted the international convention on the protection of the rights of migrants and members of their families. There are now nearly 275 million people who have been displaced from their homes because of violence, war, racial or ethnic discrimination, religious repression, or climate change leading to starvation due to floods or drought. It is estimated that 1 of every 10 migrants are children under the age of 15. Unfortunately, many destination countries have closed their borders due to COVID 19. Others have done so as a policy choice to deny migrants entry. This is a day to call on all countries to increase the number of migrants that they will accept, and to put in place procedures for adjudicating their cases in an equitable, timely and just manner. It is also a day to recognize that all people have a right to life and safety. Each year the UN invites governments, organizations, and individuals to observe International Migrants Day by distributing information on the human rights and migrants’ fundamental freedoms. People are also invited to share their experiences and contribute to designing action plans to ensure their protection. Organizations actively involved in promoting the day include:
- “December 18”, a non-governmental organization in special consultative status with the UN.
- Radio 1812, an initiative that brings together radio stations to celebrate the day.
- Amnesty International.
- The International Organization for Migration.
- The National Network for Immigrants and Refugee Rights.
Many organizations and communities celebrate the day through various activities to alert the general public with facts about migrants, problems with human trafficking, the lives of migrant workers’ children, the plight of refugees, and ways to combat racism.
Holy One, we pray for your protection and blessing on migrants throughout the world. Bless all those who seek a safe haven in which to live and to raise their families. Open our hearts to welcome migrants into our countries and communities. Open our hands to offer them welcome and assistance. Open our minds to understanding and compassion. Most of all, help us to address the situations and policies in our own countries that cause war, violence, climate change, oppression and discrimination which are the root causes of migration.
December 20—International Human Solidarity Day
Since 2005, International Human Solidarity Day is a day dedicated to celebrating global human solidarity that is centered on people & planet, underpinned by human rights and supported through global partnerships. This solidarity is essential in achieving the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) which are built on a foundation of international cooperation and solidarity. COVID 19 has confirmed what we already know: that what affects one, affects all.
International Human Solidarity Day is a day:
-to celebrate our unity in diversity;
-to remind governments to respect their commitments to international agreements
- to raise public awareness of the importance of solidarity
- to encourage debate on the ways to promote solidarity for the achievement of the SDGs
This is a day to recognize that we are all sisters and brothers to one another!
God, we ask that you bless all your people throughout the world in their desire for justice, peace, freedom, and protection of the environment. Continue to inspire solidarity among us so that together we can face the many challenges of our global community. Help us to listen to the myriad perspectives that our diversity brings to the conversation. Open us to new ways of thinking and being in solidarity with one another.
May the Infant of Bethlehem, whose birth we celebrate today,
Bless us all with peace, joy, love and compassion.