UN Days October

Individuals and groups can help to make UN Days much more effective through meditation and prayer. On this site there is a meditation in support of the UN Days and information on ways to participate in the UN Days & Years Meditation Initiative

Here you will find information on the UN designated Days during October 2011. Information provided includes some background, links to the UN site on the Day (where such a site exists), together with key thoughts for reflection.

1 October

The International Day of Older Persons has been observed by the United Nations on October 1st since 1990.

There are around 600 million people aged 60 and over around the world now - by 2025 the number will double and by 2050 there will be almost two billion older people. Already older people make a huge contribution to society, and in the future this will surely increras. In our fast ageing world, older people will increasingly play a critical role - through volunteer work, transmitting experience and knowledge, helping their families with caring responsibilities and increasing their participation in the paid labour force.

The idea of a society for all ages is rooted in the Programme of Action agreed to at the World Summit for Social Development in Copenhagen in 1995. 'A society for all' was interpreted in this Programme as a society in which "every individual, each with rights and responsibilities, has an active role to play". 'A society for all ages' expands this to the vision of a society in which "generations invest in one another and share in the fruits of that investment, guided by the twin principles of reciprocity and equity".

Visit the UN Programme on Ageing website for information on the Day; for a summary of current global thinking on the creation of a society for all ages; and for details on the Second World Assembly on Ageing held in Madrid in April 2002. Also see the World Health Organisation page on the Day.

Key thoughts for reflection:

A longer life provides humans with an opportunity to examine their lives in retrospect, to correct some of their mistakes, to get closer to the truth and to achieve a different understanding of the sense and value of their actions. This may well be the more important contribution of older people to the human community. Especially at this time, after the unprecedented changes that have affected humankind in their lifetime, the reinterpretation of life-stories by the aged should help us all to achieve the urgently needed reorientation of history.

United Nations - International Plan of Action on Aging

A new world is opening before us — not across the seas, not in outer space, not in cyberspace, but in time. Living time. Longevity is our voyage of discovery — a voyage that is so easily affordable that money is the least interesting issue to address. Far most fascinating are the powers of the mind, the resources of the spirit, that wait to be explored.

Theodore Roszak

2 October


First observed on October 2, 2007, the International Day of Non-Violence marks the birthday of Mahatma Gandhi.

National governments agreed unanimously in the UN General Assembly to use the Day as an occasion to "disseminate the message of non-violence, including through education and public awareness". The resolution reaffirms "the universal relevance of the principle of non-violence" and the desire "to secure a culture of peace, tolerance, understanding and non-violence".

The story of how this Day got itself onto the UN agenda is interesting. In 2003 an English class of mainly Korean and Japanese students at an international school in Paris were studying the Attenborough film ‘Gandhi’ with an Indian teacher. Their essays on the question: ‘Can ordinary people like us change the world?’ produced pessimistic answers, so the teacher issued a challenge: I frankly asked the students if they were ready to give changing-the-world, especially Gandhian non-violence, another try. The students came up with what they called a simple idea – that January 30, the anniversary of Gandhi’s assassination, be declared ‘Ahimsa Day - International Day of Non-Violence’.

Around this time Iranian Nobel Peace Prize winner Shirin Ebadi was visiting Paris. The students were an inspiration for her. In India in January for the World Social Forum she arranged to meet with a small group of girls in a very modest Bombay school. They talked about Gandhi, non-violence and its relevance to their lives and about the Paris students. Shirin Ebadi told the girls she would be praying for peace on January 30. They promised to pray too. The Nobel laureate also spoke about Ahimsa Day to the thousands of social activists from around the world gathered in Mumbai for the World Social Forum. The simple idea was beginning to spread.


Yet on January 30th  2004  this was still a rather humble, local ‘movement’.  In Paris  25 students from the school walked to the Eiffel Tower, speaking about Gandhi’s message to curious on-lookers and in Bombay the small group of girls sat in silent prayer.  Then came an appeal:

Could we heed the message of the children in Paris and Bombay ? On January 30th, let each of us, wherever birth or fate has put us on our planet, stop in our routines and scrambles, and do some things differently. Let us remind governments, 'experts' and armies that they are only entitled to act in our name, for the common good. What sets us apart from the other creatures of the world is our power of imagination. Let us use it, in our classrooms, workplaces, homes and neighbourhoods, so that on Ahimsa Day, improving ourselves, we could make the world a better place.

A website, ahimsaonline.org, and a growing list of prominent supporters (including an ex-President of India) led to thousands of children across India taking time out from their regular lessons on Ahimsa Day 2005 for cultural activities centred on Gandhi and non-violence. At the exact time of his death they observed a minute of silence – students at the International School and other schools in Paris joined them for the silent minute. And so momentum grew.

On January 30 2007 leading thinkers and politicians from around the world were gathered in New Delhi for a major Gandhian conference. At the instigation of Indian National Congress President, Sonia Gandhi, the conference declaration urged the people of the world to appeal to the UN to adopt Gandhi’s birthday, October 2 (moving the original focus from January 30) as International Day of Nonviolence.   The Indian government took up the appeal at the General Assembly and that’s how an idea from a class of school students in Paris ended up being adopted by the UN.

Check out the UN site.

Key thought for reflection:

Desire for enjoyment creates bodies for the soul...The soul that is hidden beneath this earthly crust is one and the same for all men and women belonging to all climes.  There is a real and substantial unity in all the variety we see around us...The force of spirit is ever progressive and endless...If we turn our eyes to the time of which history has any record we shall find that man has been steadily progression towards Ahimsa [love and non-violence]...The moment he awakens to the spirit he cannot remain violent...How many lifetimes may be needed for mastering the greatest spiritual force that mankind has ever known? [Ahimsa]  But why worry even if it means several lifetimes?  For, if this is the only permanent thing in life, if this is the only thing that counts, then whatever effort you bestow on mastering it is well-spent..Souls must react upon souls.  And since non-violence is essentially a quality of soul, the only effective appeal to the soul must lie through non-violence...Pit soul-force against brute-force...Fear is not a disease of the body; fear kills the soul.

M.K. Gandhi


3 October

Habitat (the UN Centre for Human Settlements) is the agency of the United Nations that deals with cities. World Habitat Day is a day 'to reflect on the living conditions of human beings and for actions to be taken to address the shortcomings of these conditions'. The Day is observed on the first Monday of October.

The world is witnessing the greatest migration in its history of people into towns and cities. In 1950, one-third of the world’s people lived in cities. Just 50 years later, this rose to one-half and will continue to grow to two-thirds, or 6 billion people, by 2050. Cities are now home to half of humankind.

As the world becomes increasingly urban, it is essential that policy­makers understand the power of the city as a catalyst for national development. Cities have to be able to provide inclusive living conditions for all their residents. Rich or poor, everyone has a right to the city, to a decent living environment, to clean water, sanitation, transport, electricity and other services. How we manage this is arguably one of the greatest challenges facing humanity.

Visit the World Habitat Day website.


Key thoughts for reflection:

The future of our human settlements - from hamlet to megacity - will not be determined by 'bricks and mortar' alone. More housing is needed and rebuilding decaying infrastructure is essential - the litany is a long and familiar one. But for all we do about it, the malaise that now eats at the heart of our cities will not disappear unless we also pay attention to the urban soul, unless we advance the human solidarities that transform the built environment into human - and humane - settlements: the livable neighbourhoods of our interdependent world.

History, geography and social change create the context for human solidarity; rational processes build cities, but faith, loyalty, honour and trust among its members create communal life. Beyond 'bricks and mortar', therefore, our cities, towns and villages need the social capital provided by a human solidarity of tolerance, mutual respect and shared values - social and spiritual - that generate close community bonds and trust, the bedrock of healthy human settlements.

Wally N'Dow

We find ourselves in a time in which extremely limited consciousness has the powers once accorded to the gods. Extremely limited consciousness can launch a nuclear holocaust with the single push of a button. Extremely limited consciousness can and does intervene directly in the genetic code, interferes with the complex patterns of life in the sea, and pours its wastes into the protective ozone layers that encircle the earth. Extremely limited consciousness is about to create a whole new energy base linking together computers, electronics, new materials from outer space, biofacture, and genetic engineering, which in turn will release a flood of innovation and external power unlike anything seen before in human history. In short, extremely limited consciousness is accruing to itself the powers of Second Genesis. And this with an ethic that is more Faustian than godlike.

We must therefore begin to do what has never been done before. We must assume the lmago Dei and humbly but tenaciously educate ourselves for sacred stewardship, acquiring the inner capacities to match our outer powers. We must seek and find those physical, mental, and spiritual resources that will enable us to partner the planet.

Jean Houston


4 - 10 October

Starting in the year 2000 the UN has declared that World Space Week be observed every year from October 4 - 10. These dates were chosen because the start and end of the Week are anniversaries of two great milestones of humanity's expansion into space.

During the Week space agencies around the world will be running a wide variety of programmes to encourage interest in space programmes and to promote international co-operation in space.

Visit the Space Week website for further information, including details of events around the world. The site also features a wonderful list of links to a selection of major sites devoted to space issues.

Key thought for reflection:

The echo of Space carries the command of cosmic manifestations. And whatever humanity possesses, it draws from the treasury of Cosmos.

Agni Yoga - Infinity

5 October


Think about the role of teachers in the transition into a new era. Who are the teachers? What is required of those who teach the children and young people?

We might well regard the TEACHERS as the most important group of people in the transition period. Teachers communicate and awaken higher values.

Education International states: Without teachers, education would not be what it is meant to be, because to teach, is not simply to tell a child established facts and figures. It is to inspire, to unlock his or her potentials, to offer new perspectives, to help children realise their dreams to build a better world.


In a Joint Message for World Teachers Day in 2007, the heads of four UN agencies (UNESCO, the ILO, UNDP and UNICEF) referred to the important role that teacher's play, and drew attention to the serious shortage of teachers:

Teachers are a crucial element in the achievement of the international education
goals of Education for All (EFA) and of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs).
These commit governments to providing a good quality education for all children by
2015. The growing shortage of qualified teachers is the main challenge to the
realization of these goals. UNESCO estimates that by 2015, 18 million new
teachers will be needed globally – 4 million in Africa alone. High rates of population
growth, increasing enrolment rates and the impact of HIV and AIDS in some sub-
Saharan African, Arab and South and East Asian countries, and large numbers of
teachers leaving the profession combined with shortages in some subject areas in
more developed countries, seriously threaten these goals.

But the challenge is more than one of numbers. The quality of teachers and
teaching is also essential to good learning outcomes. This implies an education
system that attracts and retains a well-trained, motivated, effective and genderbalanced
teaching staff; it implies a system that supports teachers in the classroom,
as well as in their continued professional development. Dissatisfaction with loss in
status, low salaries, poor teaching and learning conditions, and lack of career
progression or adequate professional training have driven large numbers of
teachers out of the profession, sometimes after only a few years of service.

Visit the UNESCO site for the Day. Also check out the Education International site on World Teachers Day 2009.

Key thoughts for reflection:

What is essential in education, as in every other field, is to have people who are understanding and affectionate, whose hearts are not filled with empty phrases ....
If life is meant to be lived happily, with thought, with care, with affection, then it is very important to understand ourselves; and if we wish to build a truly enlightened society, we must have educators who understand the ways of integration and who are therefore capable of imparting that understanding to the child.

J. Krishnamurti

The first principle of true teaching is that nothing can be taught. The teacher is not an instructor or task-master, he is a helper and a guide. His business is to suggest and not to imopse. He does not actually train the pupil's mind, he only shows him how to perfect his instruments of knowledge and helps and encourages him in the process. ...
The second principle is that the mind has to be consulted in its own growth. The idea of hammering the child into the shape desired by the parent or teacher is a barbarous and ignorant superstition. It is he himself who must be induced to expand in accordance with his own nature.... The chief aim of education should be to help the growing soul to draw out that in itself which is best and make it perfect for a noble use.
The third principle of education is to work from the near to the far, from that which is to that which shall be...

Sri Aurobindo

... the effort should be made [by parents and educators] to provide an atmosphere wherein certain qualities can flourish and emerge.
1. An atmosphere of love, wherein fear is cast out and the child realises he has no cause for timidity, shyness or caution, and one in which he receives courteous treatment at the hands of others, and is expected also to render equally courteous ttreatment in return....
2. An atmosphere of patience, wherein the child can become, normally and naturally, a seeker after the light of knowledge; wherein he is sure of always meeting with a quick response to inquiry and a careful reply to all questions, and wherein there is never the sense of speed or hurry....
3. An atmosphere of ordered activity, wherein the child can learn the first rudiments of responsibility....
4. An atmosphere of understanding, wherein a child is always sure that the reasons and motives for his actions woill be recognised,and that those who are his older associates will always comprehend the nature of his motivating impulses, even though they may not always approve of what he has done or of his activities.

Alice Bailey



9 October

World Post Day is observed on October 9th every year to mark the anniversary of the founding of the Universal Postal Union (UPU) on October 9th, 1874. Today the UPU, with 189 member countries, oversees the co-ordination of the global postal service, the world's largest physical distribution network.

Postal services in all countries provide the primary means of communication for people, organisations and business. The goal is to ensure a universal postal service that is easily accessible, efficient and affordable.

Visit the UPU web site for information on the Day.

Key thought for reflection:

Through skilful communication we develop pathways of resolution so that all feel themselves respected in the circle of life.

Ven. Ugvwiyuhi Dhyani Ywahoo

10 October

World Mental Health Day is co-sponsored by the World Federation of Mental Health (WFMH) and the World Health Organisation. The WFMH is a global network of people involved in mental health issues. The WFMH site on the Day, explores this years' theme.

Rosalyn Carter writes:

The time has come to reinforce what we stand for--mind and body are inseparable: health is a complete state of well-being -- and there is no health without mental health.


Key thought for reflection:

Empathy isn't about feeling sorry for people. It's about understanding the world from their point of view.

Bill Wilkerson, Canadian Business &
Economic Roundtable on Mental Health


12 October

Natural, environmental and technological disasters regularly occur throughout the world. One of the primary roles of the United Nations International Strategy for Disaster Reduction (ISDR) is to educate populations and communities most at risk from natural disasters on the means available to prevent hazards from turning into disasters. A World Disaster Reduction Campaign is promoted in an effort to mobilise youth through appropriate education towards a global culture of preventing natural disasters.

Visit the ISDR International Day website.

Key thought for reflection:

Even if natural hazards will continue to be part of our world, human decisions and actions can play a critical role in preventing them from becoming future disasters.


15 October


In December 2007 the General Assembly declared that 15 October of each year shall be officially proclaimed and observed as the International Day of Rural Women.  The resolution urges Member States, in collaboration with the organizations of the United Nations and civil society, to undertake measures to improve the situation of rural women, including indigenous women, in their national, regional and global development strategies.

These measures include:  creating an enabling environment to improve the situation of rural women; pursuing their political and socio-economic empowerment; supporting their full and equal participation in decision-making at all levels; integrating a gender perspective in the design, implementation, follow-up and evaluation of development policies and programmes; addressing their specific health needs; ensuring the rights of older women in rural areas to basic social services; mobilizing resources for increasing women’s access to existing savings and credit schemes; and integrating increased employment opportunities for rural women in all international and national development and poverty eradication strategies.

Did you know... Rural women comprise more than one quarter of the total world population. 500 million women live below the poverty line in rural areas. Women produce 60-80% of basic foodstuffs in sub-Saharan Africa and the Caribbean. Women perform over 50% of the labor involved in intensive rice cultivation in Asia. Women perform 30% of the agricultural work in industrialized countries. Women head 60% of households in some regions of Africa: Women meet 90% of household water and fuel needs in Africa. Women process 100% of basic household foodstuffs in Africa.

See Women's World Summit Foundation ; UN WomenWatch


16 October

World Food Day commemorates the anniversary of the founding of the UN's Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) on 16 October 1945.

A Day for reflection and outer action in the struggle to ensure that everyone has enough to eat every day. Over 800 million people still go hungry every day.

At a time when the global economic crisis dominates the news, the world needs to be reminded that not everyone works in offices and factories. The crisis is stalking the small-scale farms of the world too, where 70 percent of the world’s hungry live and work.

With an estimated increase of 105 million hungry people in 2009, there are now 1.02 billion malnourished people in the world, meaning that almost one sixth of all humanity is suffering from hunger.

Agriculture may have become a minor player in many industrialized economies, but it must play a starring role on the world stage if we are to bring down the curtain on hunger.

In 2000 at the Millennium Summit, the leaders of the world’s governments made a solemn commitment to fight hunger, poverty and disease. They stated in the Millennium Development Goals, that they would reduce by half the number of the world’s chronically hungry and under-nourished people. At the World Food Summit in Rome in 2002, they re-dedicated themselves to this goal. On this special Day let us visualise this goal being achieved as a result of an international alliance of all people of goodwill and conscience. Intercultural dialogue is one of the keys to building diversity into farming practices around the world and reducing the reliance on pesticides and chemicals – farmers in different cultures have a wealth of inherited wisdom to draw upon.    


Visit the World Food Day website. See also World Food Day USA site.

Key thought for reflection:

There is enough for everyone's need, but not enough for everyone's greed
Mahatma Gandhi

17 October

Check out the global campaign to mark this Day as a World Day to Overcome Extreme Poverty and sign the Call to Action.

Former UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan made the following remarks on the occasion of International Day for the Eradication of Poverty :

The theme for this year’s International Day for the Eradication of Poverty – “Working together out of poverty”—highlights the need for a truly global anti-poverty alliance, one in which both developed and developing countries participate actively.

The world has made real but insufficient progress towards the Millennium Development Goals. Thus, while extreme poverty declined significantly between 1990 and 2002—from 28% to 19% of the developing world’s population—progress has been uneven both within and between regions and countries. In much of Asia, economic and social progress has lifted nearly a quarter of a billion people out of perpetual poverty. But poverty rates in Western Asia and Northern Africa have remained stagnant, while the transition economies of Eastern Europe and Central Asia have registered increases. And sub-Saharan Africa lags the most, with the region unlikely to meet the Millennium Development Goal of halving extreme poverty by 2015.

Clearly, more needs to be done to tackle poverty and underdevelopment. The Doha trade negotiations need to produce freer and fairer trade for all. Developed nations need to come through on their Official Development Assistance (ODA) and debt relief commitments. Developing nations, for their part, should prioritize the Millennium Development Goals and, if they have not yet done so, adopt national strategies to achieve them. They should utilize ODA flows to bolster national capacities in a sustainable manner, emphasizing better governance and strengthened rule of law. And countries already on track to achieve the Goals can aim higher still by adopting even more ambitious targets.

Regrettably, the “global partnership for development” remains more phrase than fact. This has to change. All key development actors – governments, the private sector, civil society and people living in poverty – must undertake a truly collective anti-poverty effort that will lift living standards and alleviating human suffering.

The campaign to make poverty history—a central moral challenge of our age—cannot remain a task for the few, it must become a calling for the many. On this International Day for the Eradication of Poverty, I urge everyone to join this struggle. Together, we can make real and sufficient progress towards the end of poverty.

For further information visit the International Day for the Eradication of Poverty website.

Key thought for reflection:

We must see poverty eradication ... as a sacred duty.

Kofi Annan

24 October

The anniversary of the coming into force of the United Nations Charter (24 October 1945) has been observed as United Nations Day since 1948. It has traditionally been marked throughout the world by meetings, discussions and exhibits on the achievements and goals of the UN. In 1971 the General Assembly recommended that the Day be observed as a public holiday.

See the UN page for the Day in 2008. For information on local events to celebrate the Day contact your local branch of the United Nations Association. A list of national United Nations Associations on the web is available on the WFUNA website.

Key thought for reflection:

Year after year I increase my respect for the United Nations, to the point that I consider it now as one of the greatest institutions ever created by humans, a true meta-organism for the evolution of the human species and of the planet. In it converge all aspirations, dreams, differences, problems perceived by humans. These are being resolved sooner or later thanks to the global consciousness which has now grown world-wide as a major new evolutionary phenomenon. The UN is humanity's incipient global brain, and it is part of its global nervous system (media, NGOs, etc.). We still need a global heart (goodwill is an important element of it, because it starts in the heart) and we still need a global soul, namely our consciousness and fusion with the entire universe and stream of time.

Robert Muller

24 October

World Development Information Day has been observed by the United Nations since 1972. It aims to draw global attention to development issues and the need to strengthen international co-operation in the development field.

For information on development issues visit the United Nations Development Programme site. We especially recommend the annual Human Development Report which is now available online.

Key thought for reflection:

Human rights and human development are both about securing basic freedoms. Human rights express the bold idea that all people have claims to social arrangements that protect them from the worst abuses and deprivations - and that secure the freedom for a life of dignity.

Human development, in turn, is a process of enhancing human capabilities - to expand choices and opportunities so that each person can lead a life of respect and value. When human development and human rights advance together, they reinforce one another - expanding people's capabilities and protecting their rights and fundamental freedoms.

· human development is essential for realizing human rights, and human rights are essential for full human development.

Human Development Report 2000

24 - 30 October

Disarmament Week has been observed by the United Nations since 1978 when Member States were invited to highlight the dangers of the arms race, promote recognition of the need to stop the arms race, and increase public understanding of the urgent tasks of disarmament.

"Since it was first created in 1945 and, especially, since it held the first Special Session of the General Assembly on Disarmament in 1978, the United Nations has always taken a keen interest in arms control and disarmament issues. The Secretariat in particular, sometimes without much support from many member states, has striven to secure international agreements to make the world progressively safer for us all.

"As the Cold War came to an end in the late 1980s and the concept of a New World Order was promulgated, a silent belief seemed to creep into many people's minds that, somehow, the disarmament struggle was over.

"Both in terms of weapons of mass destruction (nuclear, biological and chemical) and of conventional weapons, there have been some historic achievements... but there is still a very long way to go to get anywhere near the dream of complete and general disarmament."

Malcolm Harper
Former Director, UNA-UK

. See the UN Dag Hammarskjold Library for information on the Day. Visit the UN Dept. of Disarmament Affairs web site and look at the NGO Committee on Disarmament.

Key thoughts for reflection:

Every gun that is made, every warship launched, every rocket fired, signifies in a final sense a theft from those who hunger and are not fed - those who are cold and not clothed. This world in arms is not spending money alone - it is spending the weat of its labourers, the genius of its scientists, the hopes of its children.

Dwight D. Eisenhower

Since wars begin in the minds of [people], it is in the minds of [people] that we have to erect the ramparts of peace

UNESCO Charter


What's New

2011 is being observed by United Nations as: Year of Forests; Year for People of African Descent; Year of Youth : Dialogue & Mutual Understanding (August 12 - August 11 2011); Year of Chemistry. Check out meditations for all these themes and a full list of dates for the 2011 UN calendar.

Email list- receive a monthly message 'Please Hold in the Light' - highlighting forthcoming UN Days and major international conferences. write: info@intuition-in-service.org

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