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Annual Event Calendar

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February

National Eating Disorders Awareness Week (1st week of February)

National Eating Disorders Awareness Week has been held annually since 1987, and is the nation’s largest eating disorders outreach effort. During the week, health care providers, educators, social workers, family members, students and eating disorder professionals work to teach people, but girls and women especially, the importance of promoting positive body image as well as to raise awareness about the dangers of eating disorders and the need for early intervention and treatment.

National Sexual & Reproductive Health Awareness Day (February 12)

Supported by the Canadian Federation for Sexual Health, the aim of the day is to encourage people to consider the importance of improving and maintaining their sexual and reproductive health and to talk about healthy decision making and expression of sexuality.

V-Day (February 14)

V-Day is a global movement to stop violence against women & girls and was born in 1998 as an outgrowth of Eve Ensler’s award winning play, The Vagina Monologues. As Ensler performed around the world and heard stories of rape, mutilation, and domestic violence she understood the destructive personal, social, political and economic consequences of violence against women. A group of women in New York later founded V-day, which is, at once, a catalyst, a movement and a performance. Valentine’s Day is designated as V-day until all violence stops. Once that happens V-day will be known as Victory Over Violence Day. Through V-day campaigns, volunteers and students (Vagina Warriors) produce annual benefit performances of The Vagina Monologues to raise awareness and money for anti-violence groups within their communities.

March

International Women’s Day / United Nations Day for Women’s Rights & International Peace (March 8)

First marked in 1911, in many countries, it is a protest against women’s working conditions. In 1977, the United Nations invited all member states to designate a day as International Women’s Day and in most countries it is celebrated on March 8th. In 1977 the United Nations General Assembly adopted a resolution calling on member states to proclaim a day for women’s rights and international peace. Following the UN lead, Canada chose March 8th as International Women’s Day. It celebrates the progress towards women’s full participation, reflecting on barriers that remain, and considers future steps to achieve equality for all women in all aspects of their lives. It also supports and empowers women to bring about positive and fundamental social change and underscores the critical roles that women play.

International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination (March 21)

Proclaimed by the United Nations in 1966, this day is the anniversary of the 1960 Sharpeville shootings in South Africa where peaceful demonstrators against apartheid were killed. Since 1989, there has been a national public education campaign in Canada to raise awareness among Canadians of the existence of racism.

April

Equality Day (April 17)

This marks the day when one of the equality provisions (section 15) of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms came into force. The section states that every individual is equal before and under the law and has the right to equal protection and equal benefit of the law without discrimination based on race, national or ethnic origin, colour, sex, age, or mental or physical disability.

May

Sexual Assault Prevention Month

Sexual Assault Prevention Month provides an opportunity to raise public awareness about sexual violence (focusing on sexual assault and rape) and to educate communities and individuals on how to prevent sexual violence.

International Doula Month

International Doula Month celebrates the immense contributions of doulas and their continuous emotional and physical support to women in labor, as well as information and support prenatally and postpartum. Like midwives, doulas empower women to give birth with choice and dignity.

Daisy of Hope Campaign

The Daisy of Hope Campaign, established in 1999, is a province-wide public awareness and fundraising initiative aimed at ending the vicious cycle of domestic abuse and promoting violence-free living. The campaign is conducted by participating women’s shelters and other organizations dedicated to ending domestic violence. It’s held in May – the month marked by the celebration of spring and Mother’s Day – and the symbol is the daisy, a flower widely recognized as a symbol of hope.

National Mental Health Week (1st week of May)

National Mental Health Week, established in 1951, provides the opportunity to find out more about the importance of mental health, and how to achieve it in our daily lives, as well as the impact of mental health issues on individuals, families and communities.

International Day of the Midwife (May 5)

International Day of the Midwife celebrates and honours midwifery care, which respects the normal, healthy process of pregnancy and birth and the profound meaning that childbirth has in a woman‘s life. From the midwifery perspective, skilled, respectful and supportive care is key to enabling women to give birth safely, with power and dignity.

International Day of Families (May 15)

Established in 1994 by the General Assembly of the United Nations, International Day of Families aims to strengthen and support families in performing their societal and developmental function and to build on their strengths. It also fundamentally is a day of celebration and respect for the diverse forms that families take, and a call to protect the basic rights of family members including women and children, and to promote equality between men and women.

June

Sexual Harassment Awareness Week (1st week of June)

On June 1, 2007, the Ontario government recognized the first week of June as Sexual Harassment Awareness month to increase awareness of sexual harassment, how to prevent it and to honour the memories of all women who have been victimized.

National Aboriginal Day (June 21)

In cooperation with national Aboriginal organizations, the Government of Canada designated June 21 National Aboriginal Day. This date was chosen because it corresponds to the summer solstice, the longest day of the year, and because for generations, many Aboriginal groups have celebrated their culture and heritage at this time of year. It is an opportunity to become better acquainted with the cultural diversity of Inuit, Métis and all First Nations peoples, and to celebrate the unique accomplishments of Aboriginal peoples.

August

World Breastfeeding Week (1st week)

World Breastfeeding Week celebrates and honours the reproductive health continuum for the mother to the child with no beginning or end, from generation to generation. It also underscores the value, both on a physical and emotional level, for both mother and child, of breastfeeding. During the week, events are held to bring women together, to inform them about the benefits and management of breastfeeding, to support women with accurate information, and to expand the network of support.

September

Big Brothers & Big Sisters Month

Big Brothers and Big Sisters month celebrates the twin organizations and the creation of friendships developed between adult male role models and father-absent boys, as well as the personal growth and well being of girls through friendships with adult female volunteers and through peer group support.

International Literacy Day (September 8)

International Literacy Day was first proclaimed by Unesco on November 17, 1965. The goal is to highlight the importance of literacy to individuals, communities and societies. As more than 774 million people world wide lack minimum literacy skills, Unesco reminds the international community of the status and importance of literacy and adult learning.

Take Back the Night (3rd Thursday in September)

The first Reclaim the Night march was held in Belgium in March 1976 by the women attending the International Tribunal on Crimes Against Women. They marched together holding candles to protest the ways in which violence permeates the lives of women worldwide. They also called for the right to move freely in their communities at day and night without harassment and sexual assault. The term Take Back the Night came from the title of a 1977 memorial read by Anne Pride at an anti-violence rally in Pittsburgh.

International Day of Peace (September 21)

In 1981 the United Nations passed a resolution declaring International Day of Peace, and in 2001, September 21st was adopted as the day. It is a worldwide, grassroots 24 hour vigil of peace and nonviolence. It promotes a global ceasefire and non-violence with an observation of a global minute of silence at 12 noon around peace poles.

October

National Healthy Workplace Month

National Healthy Workplace Month increases awareness of a comprehensive approach to workplace heath, which includes health and lifestyle practices, workplace culture and supportive environments, and physical environments and occupational health and safety. It’s an opportunity to support healthy lifestyle practices, but also healthy relationships both within, and outside, of the workplace including promoting equity and respect in relationships between men and women.

Women’s History Month

Women’s History Month was proclaimed by the government of Canada in 1992. It’s an opportunity to learn about the significant contribution of girls and women to the quality of our lives. It celebrates women’s contributions to Canada’s development, past and present. Each year, the Governor General designates deserving recipients who are chosen because of the historical significance of the Persons Case, and who, in their contribution to their communities, have made an impact in the lives of women and children.

Child Abuse Awareness Month

Child Abuse Awareness Month promotes increased public awareness and education campaigns for the prevention of child abuse and neglect, as well the means to empower and strengthen families.

Mental Illness Awareness Week (1st week)

Mental Illness Awareness Week is an annual national public education campaign designed to educate others about the reality of mental illness. Established in 1992 by the Canadian Psychiatric Association, it is a grassroots education initiative with member organizations across the country.

National Family Week (1st week)

National Family Week has been celebrated since 1985 when it was proclaimed an official week by the Government of Canada. It occurs the week before Thanksgiving, which is a time of family togetherness, and fosters positive environments for family well-being.

International Day for Older Persons (October 1)

The General Assembly of the United Nations designated October 1st as the International Day of Older Persons in December 1990. The day presents an opportunity to respond to the challenges of an ageing global population, as well as to promote the independence, participation, care, self-fulfillment and dignity of older persons.

World Mental Health Day (October 10)

World Mental Health Day was first observed in 1992. It’s used as an opportunity to communicate about, and advocate for, mental health issues through education, information, and active support and resources.

International Day for the Eradication of Poverty (October 17)

The observance of the International Day for the Eradication of Poverty can be traced back to October 17, 1987 when more than one hundred thousand people gathered at the Trocadero in Paris where the Universal Declaration of Human Rights was signed in 1948 to honour the victims of extreme poverty, violence and hunger. They proclaimed that poverty is a violation of human rights and affirmed the need to come together to ensure that these rights are respected. Officially adopted by the United Nations in 1992, each year people gather to renew their commitment and to show solidarity with the poor.

World Menopause Day (October 18)

Designated by the World Health Organization, in collaboration with the International Menopause Society, World Menopause Day highlights and draws attention to menopausal health issues facing women worldwide, and supports women in enhancing their health and enjoying a good quality of life.

Persons Day (October 18)

Persons Day marks the accomplishments of the Famous Five – Emily Murphy, Nellie McClung, Irene Parlby, Louise McKenny, Henrietta Muir Edwards. In 1927 they asked the Supreme Court if the word person, as written in the British North America act, included women. It didn’t and after extensive debate, on October 18, 1929, Lord Sankey, the Lord Chancellor of the Privy Council declared that, for the first time, women were considered persons. This meant that they could serve in the Senate and take on other judicial roles, and it helped to pave the way for women in many other ways. Each year the Governor General Awards are given in commemoration of the Persons’ case, awards presented for outstanding contributions that have promoted the equality of girls and women in Canada, and demonstrated leadership and excellence in any field.

November

Woman Abuse Prevention Month

The Ontario government marks November as Woman Abuse Prevention Month. The month provides an opportunity to raise awareness about violence against women and its prevention. It has been recognized as Wife Assault Prevention Month in Ontario since 1986, and in 2005 the name was changed to Woman Abuse Prevention Month.

The White Ribbon Campaign

Men and boys are asked to wear a white ribbon for one or two weeks, starting on November 25th, the International Day for the Eradication of Violence Against Women, until December 6th, Canada’s National Day of Remembrance and Action on Violence Against Women.

International Day of Tolerance (November 16)

Declared by UNESCO in 1995, International Day of Tolerance generates public awareness about the dangers of intolerance. It helps to focus attention on tolerance as an essential condition for peace, democracy and sustainable development.

Universal Children’s Day/National Child Day (November 20)

Adopted by the General Assembly of the United Nations in 1954, Universal Children’s Day is a global observation to promote the welfare of children. The day, November 20th, was chosen as it marks the day on which the Assembly adopted the Declaration of the Rights of the Child in 1959, and the Convention on the Rights of the Child in 1989.

International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women / Status of The White Ribbon Campaign (November 25)

Men and boys are asked to wear a white ribbon for one or two weeks, starting on November 25th, the International Day for the Eradication of Violence Against Women, until December 6th, Canada’s National Day of Remembrance and Action on Violence Against Women.

Women Day (November 25)

Women Day was declared by women in Latin America and the Caribbean in 1981. The day commemorates the death of the Mirabel sisters who were brutally murdered in the Dominican Republic in 1960. Sixteen days have been set aside for activism against gender violence.

16 Days of Activism Against Gender Violence (November 25 - December 10)

Sixteen days are usually set aside for activism against gender violence. It’s part of a global campaign for women’s human rights. The first 16 Days Campaign occurred in 1991 and was coordinated by the Center for Women’s Global Leadership with participants of the First Women’s Global Leadership Institute on Women, Violence, and Human Rights (June 1991). The participants chose the dates, November 25th, International Day Against Violence Against Women, and December 10th, International Human Rights Day, to symbolically link violence against women and human rights and to emphasize that such violence is a violation of human rights.

December

World AIDS Day (December 1)

World Aids Day, established in 1988, provides governments, national AIDS programs, faith organizations, community organizations and individuals an opportunity to raise awareness and focus attention on the global AIDS epidemic.

UN International Day of Disabled Persons (December 3)

Adopted by the General Assembly of the United Nations in 1982, International Day of Disabled Persons aims to promote an understanding of disability issues and mobilize support for the dignity, rights and well-being of persons with disabilities. It also seeks to increase awareness of the gains to be derived from the integration of disabled persons in every aspect of political, social, economic, and cultural life.

International Volunteer Day (December 5)

Designated by the UN in 1985, International Volunteer Day aims to thank volunteers for their efforts and to increase public awareness on their contribution to society. In addition it challenges individuals and communities to become the change they wish to see in society.

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

Established in 1991 by the Parliament of Canada, this marks the anniversary of the murders of 14 young women at l’Ecole Polytechnique that occurred in Montreal in 1989. It also represents the opportunity for Canadians to reflect on violence against women in our society, to consider women and girls for whom violence is a daily reality, and to remember those who have died as a result of gender-based violence. It’s an opportunity for communities to consider concrete actions to eliminate all forms of violence against women and girls.

YMCA Rose Button Campaign (December 6)

The Rose Button campaign is a national advocacy campaign to end violence against women and girls. It takes its name from the original Rose Button, created to commemorate the 14 young women who were murdered at L’Ecole Polytechnique, by calling for a day of action on violence against women and promoting strategies to stop violence in our communities.

International Human Rights Day (December 10)

The International Human Rights Day celebrates the anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, which was proclaimed in 1948. It’s an opportunity to reinforce Canada’s commitment to women’s rights as human rights.