Celebrate human rights — commemorative days

Add the major commemorative and awareness days to your calendar and support human rights all year round! These days help to advance the goals of the principal UN human rights conventions and covenants. Find out how you can help to mark each one at home, at work and in your community.

You may also want to learn more about other commemorative days that help to raise awareness of human rights:

See a full list of all international days observed by the United Nations.

March 8: International Women’s Day

Each year, March 8 — and the week in which it falls — allows us to measure our progress toward gender equality and to honour the contributions women have made and are making, both in Canada and around the world.

Find out how Canada celebrates International Women’s Day and how the United Nations is empowering women worldwide.

March 21: International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination

Guided by the International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination, the International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination recognizes that injustice and struggles with racism take place every day. The UN works with other countries “to adopt special measures to eliminate conditions that cause or help perpetuate racial discrimination.”

Find more information on the International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination.

June 26: International Day in Support of Victims of Torture

Torture is a crime under international law and the UN has condemned it as one of the vilest acts carried out by human beings on their fellow human beings.

International Day in Support of Victims of Torture reminds people that torture is a crime. This event gives everyone a chance to unite and voice their opinion against human torture.

Learn more about International Day in Support of Victims of Torture.

November 20: World Child Day / National Child Day

World Child Day marks the anniversary of the UN’s adoption of the Declaration of the Rights of the Child and the Convention on the Rights of the Child. This day aims to promote the rights of children, to focus efforts on protecting those rights, and to encourage child participation in these matters. There are still many children around the world who are denied their basic rights and are unable to reach their full potential.

See how Canada celebrates National Child Day and how the UN celebrates World Child Day around the world.

November 25: International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women

This is a day of tribute to the Mirabel sisters of the Dominican Republic who were murdered by the government in power. Each year on this day, governments, international and non-governmental organizations organize activities to raise public awareness of the problem. The 16 Days of Activism Against Gender Violence are observed from November 25 to December 10. During this time, Canadians are reminded that they can take action to eliminate violence against women and girls in all its forms.

See how Canada commemorates the 16 Days of Activism Against Gender Violence or find information on UN initiatives related to the International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women.

December 3: International Day of Persons with Disabilities

With an estimated one billion people worldwide living with a disability, this day promotes the awareness of issues surrounding accessibility and equality for persons who are disabled. Countries are also encouraged to take measures to ensure persons with disabilities have an accessible lifestyle and are included in all aspects of society.

Learn more about International Day of Persons with Disabilities.

February 6: International Day of Zero Tolerance for Female Genital Mutilation

Part of the UN campaign to stop female genital mutilation (FGM), February 6 is a day of international opposition to the violation of the rights of girls and woman who have been subjected to FGM.

Learn more about the International Day of Zero Tolerance for Female Genital Mutilation.

March 21: World Down Syndrome Day

The General Assembly of the UN created World Down Syndrome Day in 2011. It aims to raise public awareness of Down syndrome and promote adequate access to health care, early intervention programs and inclusive education.

Learn more about World Down Syndrome Day.

June 12: World Day Against Child Labour

This day focuses attention on the issue of child labour and the efforts needed to eliminate it. Find more information on World Day Against Child Labour.

See what Canada is doing to help protect the rights of children.

June 20: World Refugee Day

World Refugee Day is a day to commemorate the thousands of people who have fled their homes and countries for fear of persecution because of their race, religion, nationality, membership in a particular social group, or political opinion. Many refugees are in exile to escape the effects of natural or human-made disasters. Refugees are among the most vulnerable people in the world.

See how Canada is committed to helping refugees.

Learn more on UN initiatives related to World Refugee Day.

August 9: International Day of the World’s Indigenous Peoples

The International Day of the World’s Indigenous Peoples serves to promote and protect the rights of the world’s indigenous population. It also recognizes the achievements and contributions that indigenous people make to improve world issues such as environmental protection.

Learn more about the International Day of the World’s Indigenous Peoples.

August 12: International Youth Day

This day recognizes that young people can act as agents of change and should be included in discussions on peace and security as well as society more broadly.

Find more information on International Youth Day.

October 1 to 31: Women’s History Month

Women’s History Month in Canada encourages Canadians to educate themselves about women’s and girls’ valuable contributions to our country’s history — and to the quality of our lives in the 21st century.

Learn more about how Canada celebrates Women’s History Month.

October 11: International Day of the Girl

The International Day of the Girl recognizes girls’ rights and the unique challenges they face around the world such as violence, poverty and sexual harassment. The day promotes girls’ empowerment and the fulfilment of their human rights.

See how we celebrate the International Day of the Girl and learn about United Nations initiatives to empower girls around the world.

October 18: Persons Day

Persons Day commemorates the historic decision to include women in the legal definition of “persons” on October 18, 1929. This gave women the right to be appointed to the Senate of Canada and led to women’s increased participation in public and political life.

Learn more about how Canada celebrates Persons Day.

December 6: National Day of Remembrance and Action on Violence Against Women

Dedicated to remembering the murder of women at the École Polytechnique de Montréal, this day reminds us all of the need to take action to eliminate violence against women.

See how Canada commemorates the National Day of Remembrance and Action on Violence Against Women.

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