"This year’s Day of Remembrance pays particular tribute to the many women who suffered and died during the slave trade. ... Women slaves played a key role in maintaining the dignity of their communities. Too often their leadership and brave resistance have been underestimated or forgotten."
Ban Ki-moon, UN Secretary-General
For over 400 years, more than 15 million men, women and children were the victims of the tragic transatlantic slave trade, one of the darkest chapters in human history.
Every year on 25 March, the International Day of Remembrance for the Victims of Slavery and the Transatlantic Slave Trade offers the opportunity to honour and remember those who suffered and died at the hands of the brutal slavery system. The International Day also aims at raising awareness about the dangers of racism and prejudice today.
In order to more permanently honour the victims, a memorial has been erected at United Nations Headquarters in New York. The unveiling took place on 25 March 2015. The winning design for the memorial, The Ark of Return by Rodney Leon, an American architect of Haitian descent, was selected through an international competition and announced in September 2013.
2015 Theme: "Women and Slavery"
This year’s theme, “Women and Slavery pays tribute to the many enslaved women who endured unbearable hardships, including sexual exploitation, as well as those who fought for freedom from slavery and advocated for its abolition. The theme also celebrates the strength of enslaved women, many of whom succeeded in transmitting their African culture to their descendants despite the many abuses that they had to endure.
It is estimated that one third of the approximately 15 million people who were deported from Africa through the Transatlantic Slave Trade were women. Enslaved women carried a triple burden. In addition to enduring the harsh conditions of forced labour as a slave, they experienced extreme forms of discrimination and exploitation as a result of their gender and the colour of their skin.
In 2015, in addition to the formal annual observance of the International Day, during the week of 25 March, a series of worldwide commemorative activities are planned throughout the year. Events include a solemn ceremony at the UN, film screenings, cultural events, discussion series and exhibitions both at the UN and in other countries. The programme is constantly being updated and details will be available soon.