Glimpses of UN Days- how UN international days can assist awareness-building

This book calls for NGOs to use the UN international days as opportunities for awareness-building and education. It helps to open up the opportunity for the discussion of sensitive topics.

Research Findings

The United Nations has dedicated several days as international days of celebration. These 116 days are observed as ceremonial practices and an opportunity to educate, but very often people are unaware of these days. This is a missed opportunity. Spreading awareness and mobilising support are the primary goals for the celebration of these international days.

Below are some key examples of the international days that NGOs should celebrate and use as an opportunity for greater awareness-building of important social issues:

International Day of Cooperatives (3rd July) In the context of unemployment, cooperatives employ 10% of the worlds population. This day helps to advocate for an alternative people-centred model. It advocates for workers health, worker reskilling (rather than termination) and workers benefits.

World Press Freedom Day (3rd May) News serves an important role in todays society, and as an important tool for awareness-building and advocacy. However, amidst the tangle of real, fake, or exaggerated news, many people are losing interest for media outlets. This day helps to rebuild trust and recognises the media outlets that are reliable, fact-check and authenticate sources.

The South-South Cooperation Day (12th September) – helps to recognise the role of the global south’s collaborative efforts. In the context of protectionism and unilateralism this could not be more timely. It helps to demonstrate how to lead through collaboration, knowledge-sharing and skill-sharing, which in turn helps to highlight a good response to humanitarian, environmental, and many such challenges.

International Women’s Day (8th March) – needs to be communicated as much to men as women. Men share half of the responsibility to close the gender gap. Feminism needs to be normalised and equate to civility, responsibility and equal rights.

Key Recommendations

1. Governments should reference these days when trying to build support or awareness for social issues

2. NGO’s should actively build awareness of these days in their advocacy campaigns

3. These days should be added into the calendar of every elected representatives and policy maker. It can serve as a framework for their own education of social issues.

Implementation Examples

Can be applied to all advocacy strategies across NGOs and governments.


Based on an examination of the 116 UN International days.


It only uses secondary-source resources and does not know the real extent of the impact when using these days as a tool in advocacy.