Poem: Self-Discovery

A journey through life, I embark on this ride,
Exploring the depths of my soul and my mind,
A path that is winding, with twists and turns,
Where every step taken, my spirit burns.

I search for my purpose, my reason to be,
To find who I am and to set myself free,
From doubts and from fears, from the things that I hide,
To embrace all my qualities, both the dark and the light.

And as I journey on, I come to understand,
That self-discovery means taking a stand,
For my beliefs and my values, for what I hold true,
And learning to love myself, the whole me, through and through.

For with every step taken, with every breath drawn,
I uncover new pieces of myself that have formed,
A tapestry woven, of all that I am,
A unique and beautiful being, with a story to stand.

So I embrace this journey, with open arms wide,
For the destination of self-discovery, I will always abide,
For it is in knowing myself, that I truly find peace,
And a sense of belonging, that will never cease.

International Day of Happiness

That elusive state of mind we are all searching for, happiness has multiple meanings and each meaning is different for each of us. Celebrated all over the year each year on 20 March, the International Day of Happiness was established by the United Nations General Assembly on 28 June 2012 and aims to make people around the world realize the importance of happiness in their lives.

Before the establishment of the International Day of Happiness, the President of the World Happiness Foundation, Jayme Illien, along with Luis Gallardo founded Happytalism. Illien ran a campaign at the United Nations from 2006 to 2012 to encourage and advance the primacy of happiness, well-being, and democracy. In 2011, Jayme Illien proposed the idea of the International Day of Happiness at the United Nations General Assembly to promote happiness economics around the world by improving the economic development of all countries. The idea was adopted by the United Nations General Assembly on 19 July 2011 at the initiative of then-Prime Minister Jigme Thinley of Bhutan, a country that has famously pursued the target of Gross National Happiness since the 1970s.

The International Day of Happiness was officially established in 2012 and first commemorated in 2013. Building on the concept of Jayme Illien, the United Nations has taken a step forward with World Happiness Day to inform people about the importance of happiness in people’s lives and the need to incorporate happiness into public policies. On World Happiness Day, the United Nations General Assembly calls for people to make more continuous progress and the small things that continue to make their lives better.

The pursuit of happiness is a fundamental human goal and happiness plays an important role in addressing the many challenges the world faces, both complex and interrelated. The world needs a new economic paradigm that recognises the parity between the three pillars of sustainable development. Social, economic, and environmental well-being are indivisible and together they define gross global happiness. Happiness should not be a luxury for a few with the pursuit of happiness being universal and fundamental.

In the steps to Global Happiness, we learn that happiness is a fundamental human right and goal for all, happiness is a universal aspiration in the lives of all with happiness being a way of living, being, and serving communities and society. Happiness is a north star for individuals, communities, governments, and society and the path to happiness leads toward achieving sustainable development goals. Happiness is a new paradigm for human development and the worldwide celebration of the international day of happiness is democratic, diverse, organic, and inclusive.

The World Happiness Report is published by the Sustainable Development Solutions Network, a global initiative of the United Nations. This report ranks the different countries on national happiness, based on respondent ratings of the lives of their citizens, the report also correlates with various quality of life factors and the report primarily uses data from the Gallup World Poll.

On this International Happiness Day, while you’re enjoying the things that bring you happiness, please think about sharing your happiness with others. Be grateful, share your blessings and give back as much as you can and share happiness.

World Oral Health Day

Organised annually on 20 March, World Oral Health Day is observed to raise global awareness of the issues around oral health and the importance of oral hygiene so that governments, health associations and the general public can work together to achieve healthier mouths and happier lives. World Oral Health Day aims to recognise the importance of good oral health and unite to reduce the burden of oral diseases which affect individuals, health systems, and economies everywhere. It also aims to empower people with the knowledge, tools, and confidence to secure good oral health

Oral diseases are a major health concern for many countries and negatively impact people throughout their lives. 90% of the world’s population will suffer from oral diseases in their lifetime, many avoidable. Oral diseases lead to pain and discomfort, social isolation, and loss of self-confidence, and they are often linked to other serious health issues. And yet, there is no reason to suffer – most oral health conditions are largely preventable and can be treated in their early stages. 

Oral hygiene is the practice of keeping one’s mouth clean and free of disease and other problems by regular brushing of the teeth and cleaning between the teeth. Oral hygiene must be carried out regularly to enable the prevention of dental disease and bad breath. The most common types of dental disease are tooth decay which includes cavities, and dental caries and gum diseases, including gingivitis, and periodontitis. General guidelines for adults suggest brushing at least twice a day with fluoridated toothpaste and brushing last thing at night and at least on one other occasion. Cleaning between the teeth is called interdental cleaning and is as important as tooth brushing. This is because a toothbrush cannot reach between the teeth and therefore only removes about 50% of plaque from the surface of the teeth. There are many tools to clean between the teeth, including floss, tape and interdental brushes; it is up to each individual to choose which tool they prefer to use. Sometimes white or straight teeth are associated with oral hygiene. However, a hygienic mouth can have stained teeth or crooked teeth. To improve the appearance of their teeth, people may use tooth whitening treatments and orthodontics.

More than 130 countries take part in World Oral Health Day which is organised by the FDI World Dental Federation. World Oral Health Day was launched on 20 March 2013 by the FDI World Dental Federation which also marks the launch of a year-long campaign to raise awareness of oral health and the prevention of oral diseases. Since 2013 these campaigns have featured a specific theme. Since 2014 and in collaboration with its daughter organisation, the International Association of Dental Students or IADS, FDI organises an annual worldwide competition for best awareness and prophylactic activities held by dental student organizations in celebration of World Oral Health Day.

The campaign theme for the years 2021 to 2023 is Be Proud of Your Mouth. This theme that spans three years sends out a simple but powerful message to value and take care of our mouths. This year, the campaign wants to inspire change by focusing on the importance of oral health at every stage of life, because no matter what age one is, caring for the mouth and looking after oral health is important.

So take care of your oral health,  because establishing good oral hygiene and dietary habits have proven to be essential to achieving and maintaining, overall physical and emotional well-being throughout life.

Is Loyalty Overrated

Over centuries, loyalty is a quality that has been highly regarded. It is defined as being faithful and devoted to someone or something and has long been considered a virtue. However, in recent years, the concept of loyalty has come under scrutiny, with some people questioning its value and suggesting that it is overrated. Loyalty is considered a desirable trait. To the beneficiary, a couple of serious errors will not end the relationship and to the bestower, it feels good to be able to count on someone who will have your back unquestionably.

Loyalty is better viewed as a phenomenon of other traits and virtues including trustworthiness, empathy for fellow humans, investing in a relationship in good times and bad, and variations of the golden rule. These are constitutive virtues of loyalty. At the same time, loyalty should not trump independent moral judgment.

In a fast-paced world where everything is constantly changing, the idea of being loyal to one person or thing can seem outdated. Some argue that loyalty can limit personal growth and hold individuals back from pursuing new opportunities. For example, if a person is loyal to a company that is not providing opportunities for advancement, they may miss out on opportunities for growth and development elsewhere. Similarly, if a person is loyal to a relationship that is not fulfilling or healthy, they may miss out on opportunities for happiness and fulfilment in other relationships.

On the other hand, others believe that loyalty is essential for building strong relationships and creating a sense of stability in an uncertain world. For example, in a romantic relationship, loyalty can help to build trust and create a sense of security. Loyalty to a cause or belief can also help to create a sense of community and shared purpose. In both cases, loyalty provides a foundation for growth and development in a way that cannot be achieved through change or unpredictability alone.

The value of loyalty is subjective and depends on individual perspectives and experiences. For some, the benefits of loyalty are undeniable, while for others, the drawbacks are too great. One thing is certain, however: loyalty can be a double-edged sword. On one hand, it can provide a sense of stability and security, but on the other hand, it can also limit personal growth and prevent individuals from pursuing new opportunities.

The value of loyalty is subjective and depends on individual perspectives and experiences. For some, the benefits of loyalty are undeniable, while for others, the drawbacks are too great. One thing is certain, however: loyalty can be a double-edged sword. On one hand, it can provide a sense of stability and security, but on the other hand, it can also limit personal growth and prevent individuals from pursuing new opportunities.

But loyalty is overrated.

Loyalty encourages complacency. Some people will behave well even if there’s no accountability. But we all know of that one person who will choose to play around the edges if they can get away with it, be it at work, school or at home. Sometimes a change in the situation or the level of attachment or investment will change a person’s loyalty.

One of the key factors that affect the value of loyalty is the context in which it occurs. Loyalty to a person or organization that is unethical or harmful can be damaging to both the individual and society as a whole. In such cases, loyalty can be a form of enabling and can perpetuate harmful behaviour. On the other hand, loyalty to a cause or belief that is just and moral can have a positive impact on both the individual and society.

Another factor that affects the value of loyalty is the level of attachment or investment. For example, a person who has invested a significant amount of time and energy into a relationship or organization may feel a greater sense of loyalty than someone who has not. However, this attachment can also make it more difficult to let go of the relationship or organization if it becomes harmful or unfulfilling.

Loyalty has benefits but also under-discussed liabilities. The concept of loyalty is complex and multifaceted, and whether it is overrated or not depends on individual perspectives and experiences. Loyalty can provide a sense of stability and security, but it can also limit personal growth and prevent individuals from pursuing new opportunities. Ultimately, the value of loyalty is determined by the context in which it occurs and the level of attachment or investment. Whether or not loyalty is overrated, it is important for individuals to consider their perspectives and experiences, and to make informed decisions about when and how to be loyal.

International Women’s Day 2023

Today is International Women’s Day, a day which brings to the fore the women’s rights movement, bringing attention to issues such as gender equality, reproductive rights, and violence and abuse against women.

Spurred on by the universal female suffrage movement that had begun in New Zealand, IWD originated from labour movements in North America and Europe during the early 20th century. The earliest version was purportedly a Women’s Day organised by the Socialist Party of America in New York City on February 28, 1909. This inspired German delegates at the 1910 International Socialist Women’s Conference to propose a special Women’s Day be organised annually, albeit with no set date; the following year saw the first demonstrations and commemorations of International Women’s Day across Europe. After women gained suffrage in Soviet Russia in 1917 which was the beginning of the February Revolution, International Women’s Day was made a national holiday on March 8; it was subsequently celebrated on that date by the socialist movement and communist countries. The holiday was associated with far-left movements and governments until its adoption by the global feminist movement in the late 1960s. International Women’s Day became a mainstream global holiday following its adoption by the United Nations in 1977. The UN observes the holiday in connection with a particular issue, campaign, or theme in women’s rights.

International Women’s Day is a day when women can imagine a gender-equal world, a world free of bias, stereotypes, and discrimination. A world that’s diverse, equitable, and inclusive an a world where difference is valued and celebrated. Together and collectively, women’s equality can be forged and equity embraced.

And Embrace Equity is the theme for this year’s IWD. Equity isn’t just a nice-to-have, it’s a must-have. A focus on gender equity needs to be part of every society’s DNA and it is critical to understand the difference between equity and equality. The words equity and equality are often used interchangeably. Etymologically, the root word they share is aequus, meaning even, fair or equal – which led to equity being from the Latin aequitas, and equality from aequalitas. Yet, despite these similarities, equity and equality are inherently different concepts, and the IWD 2023 #EmbraceEquity campaign theme seeks to help forge worldwide conversations about this important issue and its impact. 

So, what’s the difference between equity and equality – and why is it important to understand and acknowledge this? Equality means each individual or group of people is given the same resources or opportunities. Equity recognizes that each person has different circumstances, and allocates the exact resources and opportunities needed to reach an equal outcome. Equity can be defined as giving everyone what they need to be successful. In other words, it’s not giving everyone the same thing. If we give everyone the same thing, expecting that will make people equal, it assumes that everyone started in the same place – and this can be vastly inaccurate because everyone isn’t the same.

We can all truly embrace equity. It should not be just something we say or write about. It’s something we need to think about, know, and embrace. It’s what we believe in, unconditionally. Equity means creating an inclusive world. All of us, irrespective of gender can play a part in creating an inclusive world by actively supporting and embracing equity within our sphere of influence. We can and should challenge gender stereotypes, call out discrimination, draw attention to bias, and seek out inclusion. Collective activism is what drives change. From grassroots action to wide-scale momentum, we can all embrace equity. Forging gender equity isn’t limited to women solely fighting the good fight. Allies are incredibly important for the social, economic, cultural, and political advancement of women.

Over at the United Nations, the theme for International Women’s Day is DigitALL: Innovation and technology for gender equality. This theme highlights the need for inclusive and transformative technology and digital education.

The United Nations recognises and celebrates the women and girls who are championing the advancement of transformative technology and digital education. This IWD will explore the impact of the digital gender gap on widening economic and social inequalities and will also spotlight the importance of protecting the rights of women and girls in digital spaces and addressing online and ICT-facilitated gender-based violence. Bringing women and other marginalised groups into technology results in more creative solutions and has greater potential for innovations that meet women’s needs and promote gender equality. Their lack of inclusion, by contrast, comes with massive costs. As per the UN Women’s Gender Snapshot 2022 report, women’s exclusion from the digital world has shaved $1 trillion from the gross domestic product of low-and middle-income countries in the last decade—a loss that will grow to $1.5 trillion by 2025 without action. Reversing this trend will require tackling the problem of online violence, which a study of 51 countries revealed 38 percent of women had personally experienced.

A gender-responsive approach to innovation, technology, and digital education can increase the awareness of women and girls regarding their rights and civic engagement. Advancements in digital technology offer immense opportunities to address development and humanitarian challenges and to achieve the 2030 Agenda’s Sustainable Development Goals. Unfortunately, the opportunities of the digital revolution also present a risk of perpetuating existing patterns of gender inequality. Growing inequalities are becoming increasingly evident in the context of digital skills and access to technologies, with women being left behind as the result of this digital gender divide. The need for inclusive and transformative technology and digital education is therefore crucial for a sustainable future.

Lets us all celebrate women’s achievements today and raise awareness about the discriminations we face. Let’s take action to drive gender parity and embrace equity.