How Can You Raise Awareness Through UN International Days?

un observance day

What You'll Learn

By Victoire Caroly, Jr. Events & Communications Coordinator

I’m sure you’ve heard of Earth Day (April 22), International Women’s Day (March 8) and World AIDS Day (Dec. 1). But what about World Toilet Day (Nov. 19), the International Day of Happiness (March 20), and the International Day of Yoga (June 21)? What do these days have in common?

They are all international days of observance established by the United Nations, in conjunction with affiliated organizations like the World Health Organization and the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization.

These designated days allow communities worldwide to advocate, commemorate or mobilize around specific topics that affect the international community, like AIDS, human rights, health issues and sanitation.un

While these international days are observed and sanctioned by the UN, nonprofits can use international days to great success in raising awareness about their cause.

Let’s take World Malaria Day as an example. Every year on April 25, WHO calls attention to the issues still needing to be addressed in the prevention, diagnosis and treatment of malaria, a preventable disease that still kills more than half a million people every year.

Maybe you’ve seen the work of Malaria No More, Nothing But Nets, or Roll Back Malaria in advertisements on television or social media. Every year these organizations highlight the advances made in combating malaria, but also the huge amount of work still left to be done. On April 25, special campaigns across various media channels by these organizations raise awareness and spark discussion on the issue. The more people know about the issue and its challenges, the more people might want to get involved.

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Using specific hashtags, like UN created hashtags or ones from an organization’s campaign, broadens the conversation and uses the power of word of mouth and social networks to spread the issue across multiple channels.


In addition to social media, your nonprofit can hold a special event to commemorate whatever international day is most relevant to your mission. This way, you involve your donor base and raise awareness about your cause all while taking advantage of the opportunities presented by the prestigious UN international day.

Take a look at the official list of the international days currently observed by the United Nations, and think of ways you or your organization can get involved and spread the word about a cause close to your heart!

About the author
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