We’re just coming to the end of a jam-packed spell of “World Days”. November the 16th was the International Day of Tolerance, the 20th saw the World mark Children’s Rights Day. The 1st day of December was the high profile World AIDS day, December the 5th brought International Volunteer Day and today, December the 10th, is International Human Rights Day.
All of the above have some connection to COCO’s activities and we stand behind the values each seeks to further. But is the whole notion of a “World Day” a valid one? In a recent article on the BBC website filmmaker and columnist Farai Sevenzo seems to argue that they are little more than a salve for the conscience, bringing little in the way of concrete progress towards the aims they champion.
If we are brutally honest, in the COCO office we only had the time to meaningfully mark one of these days, World AIDS day, which we did through the theme of our annual Red Ribbon Ball on December 4th. However, that these days exist can only, in my opinion, be a positive thing. They undoubtedly help to raise awareness of issues that COCO work to address; nevertheless, Mr Sevenzo does make a very valid point. If these days are just that, one day in a year, then their impact will be limited and their very existence perhaps unjustified.
That is where NGOs have to step in. World AIDS day can attract people’s attention towards important issues but it is charities, NGOs and campaign groups that must, by keeping a high profile each and every day, utilise that increased awareness and interest to bring about lasting change.
Of course no one day can change the world, but it can trigger the first step down the right path.