Seimas updates the List of Memorable Days
Press release, 8 June 2023
The Seimas adopted amendments to the Law on Memorable Days in order to update the list of memorable days. The amendments were passed by 94 votes in favour with 1 vote against and 10 abstentions.
The new legal provisions introduce 4 January as World Braille Day; 17 February as National Emancipation Day; 27 February as World Non-Governmental Organisations Day; 1 March as International Wheelchair Day for persons with disabilities; 2 April as World Autism Awareness Day; 5 May as the European Day of Independent Living for persons with disability; the first Saturday of August as Beekeepers’ Day; 23 September as the International Day of Sign Languages; 10 October as World Mental Health Day; 15 October as World White Cane Safety Day; 16 November as the Day of Lithuanian Polyphonic Songs (sutartinės); and 3 December as the International Day of Persons with Disabilities.
4 January – World Braille Day
World Braille Day is annually celebrated on 4 January. This date preserves the memory of a person important for the global community of the blind and the visually impaired. Unincidentally, the date coincides with the birthday of Louis Braille, the inventor of the Braille Code. The aim of listing this day in the Law on Memorable Days is to promote in Lithuania the day important for the community of the blind and visually impaired. According to Monika Ošmianskienė, MP, the initiator of this proposal, the commemoration of Braille Day will help to promote the use of the Braille Code in public places and encourage giving thought to the changes needed to empower the local community of the blind and visually impaired.
17 February – National Emancipation Day
National Emancipation Day is targeted at highlighting the relevance of emancipative ideas and promoting the visions and practices based on the principles of equivalence. ‘The first protest in Lithuania since the proclamation of independence took place on 17 February 1918. The protesters demanded recognition of the contribution of women to the restoration of the state of Lithuania and required that women be co-opted into the Council of Lithuania, an institution represented only by men at the time,’ said Viktorija Čmilytė-Nielsen, Speaker of the Seimas. According to her, the purpose of listing National Emancipation Day as a memorable date is to properly commemorate the contribution of Lithuanian women to the restoration of Lithuania’s independence and to the creation of the independent state of Lithuania, to provide an opportunity for discussing a range of human rights issues related to gender, social status, disability, ethnic identity, age, religion, sexual orientation and other grounds, and to promote consideration and implementation of constitutional values such as equality and non-discrimination.
27 February – World Non-Governmental Organisations Day
Listing of the World Non-Governmental Organisations (NGO) Day in the Law aims to draw public attention to the importance and achievements of non-governmental organisations that play an active role in various areas of public policy and to provide a platform for NGOs to exchange relevant information and good practices. According to Ms Čmilytė-Nielsen, Speaker of the Seimas and initiator of this proposal, over 89 countries worldwide currently celebrate the World NGO Day.
1 March – International Wheelchair Day for persons with disabilities
International Wheelchair Day is celebrated on 1 March to focus on people who are moving with the help of a wheelchair, the difficulties they face and the opportunities that the wheelchair offers. It is a particularly important day for persons with physical disabilities, as a wheelchair is an integral part of their lives. ‘Today, wheelchair users face a variety of challenges arising from environments ill-adapted to wheelchairs. This limits the movement, opportunities and rights of people with disabilities. As a result, the community of wheelchair users often suffers from social exclusion, loses out on study, work and independent living opportunities and misses out on chances of active participation in public life. The International Wheelchair Day will offer an opportunity to raise public awareness and draw the attention of the politicians to these problems as well as to consider ways for best addressing them,’ emphasises Ms Ošmianskienė, the drafter of the proposal.
2 April – World Autism Awareness Day
World Autism Awareness Day is an internationally recognised day. It annually encourages the member states of the United Nations to take the measures to raise public awareness on Autism Spectrum Disorder (ADS), to draw the attention of authorities to the problems faced by families with autistic children, and to develop public awareness and tolerance to children with ADS and their parents. As the initiator of the proposal, Ms Ošmianskienė, remarks, listing that day as a memorable one will help to raise public awareness and improve public understanding of this developmental disorder, as well as serve as an opportunity to highlight the change needed to ensure that all persons with ADS and their families feel good in our society.
5 May – the European Day of Independent Living for persons with disability
The European Day of Independent Living across Europe is marked on 5 May. The right to live independently is at the heart of the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities. ‘Lithuania is predominantly plagued by the attitude that people with disabilities, especially those with intellectual disabilities or complex communication needs, have to live in institutional care. This also often happens in practice, even though this violates people’s right to independent living. Marking of the Day of Independent Living will encourage raising the topic of the right of persons with disabilities to independent life, the challenges that arise and the necessary changes and solutions. At the same time, this will focus public attention on persons with disabilities and help to work towards changing the outdated societal views regarding people with disabilities by identifying independent living as one of the most important principles of human rights for people with disabilities,’ says Ms Ošmianskienė, the initiator of the proposal.
The first Saturday of August – Beekeepers’ Day
Beekeepers’ Day will pay tribute to and remind the public of the importance of beekeeping as a specific branch in the agricultural sector and as a social phenomenon with well-preserved traditions. The author of the proposal, Gintautas Paluckas, MP, says that beekeeping is not only a branch of the economy, but also a practical example of how people build relations of solidarity and mutual trust. He stresses that bees provide irrefutable benefits for ecosystems and offer multiple benefits to agriculture, while beekeepers, in the number of 12,000 in Lithuania, are only left with a small portion of the benefit they generate.
23 September – the International Day of Sign Languages
On 23 September, the International Day of Sign Languages is celebrated worldwide. The aim of listing this day as a memorable day is to mark the importance of sign languages and to highlight their accessibility for people with hearing impairments.
10 October – World Mental Health Day
World Mental Health Day is annually celebrated on 10 October and was initiated by the World Mental Health Federation (WFMH) in 1992. This day is designed to increase mental health awareness, to raise public awareness on the causes of mental health disorders and to promote their non-stigmatisation. Ms Ošmianskienė, author of the proposal, says that Lithuania is plagued by the worrying suicide rates, the prevalence of bullying, and mental health indicators in children. Lithuania also has provisions stigmatising mental health problems and public awareness of the available assistance is still limited. According to her, the inclusion of World Mental Health Day on the list of memorable days will emphasise the importance of mental and emotional health, raise public concern on the subject and encourage debate on the matter.
October 15 – World White Cane Safety Day
World White Cane Safety Day is a significant day for the community of the blind and visually impaired. According to Ms Ošmianskienė, MP, various events are organised on this day in order to raise public awareness on the problems of the visually impaired, to inform the public about the causes of visual impairment, and to thus ensure due prevention of visual impairments.
16 November – the Day of Lithuanian Polyphonic Songs
Lithuanian polyphonic (multipart) songs, known as sutartinės in Lithuanian, are a phenomenon in Lithuanian traditional music and an ancient form of polyphonic music dating back to the times before the baptism of Lithuania. On 16 November 2010, Lithuanian polyphonic songs were inscribed on the UNESCO Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity. According to Robertas Šarknickas, MP, this day is intended to honour and raise public awareness on the intangible values of the Lithuanian cultural heritage that merit protection as part of the Lithuanian national identity.
3 December – the International Day of Persons with Disabilities
The International Day of Persons with Disabilities, annually celebrated on 3 December, offers an opportunity to take a closer look at the situation and the role of people with disabilities in society. ‘Marking this day will allow focusing on the challenges and problems faced by people with disabilities and encourage the search for ways to reduce their social exclusion,’ says Ms Ošmianskienė, the initiator of the proposal.
Rimas Rudaitis, Adviser, Press Office, Department of Information and Communication, tel. +370 5 239 6132, e-mail [email protected]