Global Citizen is a community of people like you

People who want to learn about and take action on the world’s biggest challenges. Extreme poverty ends with you.

Citizenship

5 Valentine's Day Ideas That Make the World a Little Better Too

Why Global Citizens Should Care
There might only be one day a year devoted to true love, but activism is always in season. Why not bring it all together? Romance can't survive without gender equality, good health, and a planet we can actually live on. These issues are all addressed by the UN's Global Goals — so join the movement by taking action here.

Valentine's Day has a bit of sordid history. Emperor Claudius II banned marriage in the third century — because, according to BBC Newsbeat, he thought married men were bad soldiers. So when St. Valentine, a priest in Rome, rebelled and arranged marriages in secret, Claudius beheaded him.

Luckily for us, it’s now quite acceptable to crack on with Tinder and fight for your beliefs all in one evening. 

Take Action: Call on World Leaders to Keep Girls in School

There’s no need to lose your head this Valentine’s Day. Follow our tips, and both you and humanity will be just fine.

1. Save six lives in one date

There’s a bunch of ways you can tell a first date has gone well: usually it comes with that warm fuzzy feeling that you did good this time; maybe there's a kind-of-fun tingling sensation afterwards.

It’s also how you might feel after giving blood. That’s why the National Health Service (NHS) wants you to get down and do both this Valentine’s Day.

Last week, Cosmopolitan blogger Oloni tweeted her followers to text their crush, ask them out to give blood, and screenshot their response. The National Health Service’s blood and transplant division (NHSBT) then selected two strangers at random, Rose and Stephanos, to meet on a first date — and hopefully encourage more young people to donate blood as a result.

Read More: This Is How To Find Decent Human Beings on Dating Apps

In previous years, #DateToDonate has filmed dates with the cast members of Hamilton, Love Island, and also Blaine Cameron Johnson, the south London rapper known as Cadet, who tragically died in a car crash on Saturday February 9.

“We are asking young people to make blood donation part of their regular routine, something that they have reoccurring in their diaries,” said Nadine Eaton, the head of marketing at the NHS’s blood and transplant division (NHSBT). “Less than a quarter of those who gave blood last year were younger than 30 years old, so we particularly hope these videos appeal to this age group.”

Just one hour of your time can save three lives — so one date helps a round half dozen. You can register to give blood here.

2. Show love for the planet

A lot of dates include activities — millennials are replacing the casual pint with the climbing of walls, themed mini-golf, and more. Getting out there now truly means, you know, leaving the house.

So with the Earth’s sixth mass extinction reportedly underway, it’s the best possible time to throw yourself into arts and crafts, get those sign-making materials together, flex your pun-game, and prepare for the huge marches against climate change happening the morning after Valentine’s Day.

On Feb. 15, the global movement of students skipping school to protest government inaction comes to over 30 towns and cities across the UK. Thousands are expected to join the campaign led by UK Youth Climate Coalition — and you can find out what’s happening in your area here.

3. My Bloody Galentine

There’s no men allowed at the third-annual charity brunch hosted by Verve and Bloody Good Period on Sunday, Feb. 17, in London. 

It’s all to raise much-needed money for the latter: an organisation that provides a “sustainable flow” of menstrual products to 16 drop-in centres for asylum seekers in London and Leeds. The nonprofit group reports that it costs approximately £4,800 to deal with periods over a lifetime — but asylum seekers receive just £37.75 a week to live on. 

It’s a worthy cause that deserves some love. But it’ll also be a bloody good time — with food, bubbles, and Bloody Marys for everyone. Femme and non-binary identities are welcome, too!

4. Play your cards right

If I've learned one thing from repeated teenage viewings of 500 Days of Summer it’s that it’s really, really hard to actually write anything profound and simple in a Valentine's Day card.

That’s why we're letting our friends at the Fawcett Society — a gender equality charity named after leading suffragist Millicent Fawcett — do all the heavy lifting for us this year. 

The organisation has teamed up with illustrator Henry James Garrett, creator of Drawings of Dogs, to produce a set of intersectional feminist cards — with all proceeds split between some awesome equality groups: Time's Up UK, TellMAMA, the Red Box Project, and the Survivor's Network. 

"Roses are red, mass-market romance is outdated,” one reads. “It's sisterhood and solidarity that ought to be celebrated!"

5. You can’t go wrong with a nice dinner

You know the feeling: You haven’t booked a restaurant even though you agreed to go somewhere special, and the panic is setting in. 

Breathe. Stop sifting through Tripadvisor reviews and reserve your table at Big Table, Big Heart Valentine's Supper —a night of food and jazz to raise vital money for refugee charity Side by Side.

It’s nothing to do with Ariana Grande — Side by Side is a small charity that collects humanitarian aid and distributes it wherever it’s most needed, according to its website, often in northern France. 

“Side by Side believes that when you have more than you need, you build a bigger table, not a higher fence,” the event says. “So ditch the chintz on Feb. 14 and join Side by Side and friends instead, at our shared supper raising much needed funds for our work supporting refugees.”

Your chef for the evening will be Fozia Ismail, feminist activist and founder of Arawelo Eats — an east African food club that explores feelings of belonging in a post-Brexit world.