By Koketso Mamabolo


International Day of Families – 15 May

Each year the world recognises the importance of the family unit. The UN’s initiatives relating to families began in the 1980s, with the General Assembly adopting a resolution in 1993 marking the 15th of May as International Day of Families. In 2015, the UN decided on the Sustainable Development Goals, some of which apply to families. “This year’s theme ‘Families and Urbanisation’ aims to raise awareness on the importance of sustainable, family-friendly urban policies,” says the UN. The world body recognises how urbanisation is “shaping our world and the life and wellbeing of families worldwide.”


World Telecommunication and Information Society Day – 17 May

The intention behind observing World Telecommunication and Information Society Day is to recognise how the information and communication technologies can help develop “societies and economies”. The theme for 2022 is ‘Digital technologies for older persons and healthy ageing’. “The ageing of the global population will be the defining demographic trend of the 21st Century – yet our societies struggle to see the opportunities that this trend can unfold,” says the UN. “This year’s theme raises awareness of the important rule of telecommunications/ICTs in supporting people to stay healthy, connected and independent – physically, emotionally and financially.”


International Museum Day – 18 May

‘The Power of Museums’ is the theme for this year’s International Museum Day. Beginning in 1977, each year the International Council of Museums highlights the importance of museums. “Museums have the power to transform the world around us. As incomparable places of discovery, they teach us about our past and open our minds to new ideas – two essential steps in building a future,” says the council. This comes after 2021 saw the council reaching 89 million people through various online mediums. This year the council is focusing on sustainability, digitalisation, accessibility and “community building through education”.


World Day for Cultural Diversity for Dialogue and Development – 21 May

The story of the World Day for Cultural Diversity for Dialogue and Development begins in 2001, when UNESCO adopted the Universal Declaration on Cultural Diversity. In 2002 a resolution on Culture and Sustainable Development was unanimously adopted by the Second Committee of the UN General Assembly. “Three-quarters of the world’s major conflicts have a cultural dimension. Bridging the gap between cultures is urgent and necessary for peace, stability and development,” says the UN. “Cultural diversity is a driving force of development, not only with respect to economic growth, but also as a means of leading a more fulfilling intellectual, emotional, moral and spiritual life.”


International Day for Biological Diversity – 22 May

The year 2021 marked the beginning of the UN’s Decade of Restoration. The 2022 theme is ‘building a shared future for all life’. The UN Decade of Restoration “highlights that biodiversity is the answer to several sustainable development challenges”.  While the UN notes the “growing recognition that biological diversity is a global asset of tremendous value to future generations”, they have emphasised the continued importance of educating and raising awareness about biodiversity as we work towards the Sustainable Development Goals. 


Africa Day – 25 May

In 1963 the Organisation of African Unity, forerunner to the African Union, was established. Each year the continent commemorates this important step in uniting African states. The day is an opportunity for Africa to reflect on how far it has come in dealing with various challenges facing the union’s member states. The AU declared 2022 the ‘Year of Nutrition’ for “strengthening resilience in nutrition & food security on the African continent”, in line with Agenda 2063. The union seeks to tackle malnutrition and improve food security and the health of the growing African population.

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