21 May is observed as World Day of Cultural Diversity for Dialogue and Development throughout the world. It is an official United Nations Observance. Cultural diversity has an important role to play in the promotion of stability and harmony. The day acknowledges and promotes the role of cultural diversity as an agent of dialogue and development. It provides us an opportunity to deepen our understanding of various aspects of cultural diversity.
The origin of this day dates back to the beginning of this millennium. In March 2001, a terrorist attack took place in Afghanistan. Military and para-military forces of the Taliban government devastated the two monumental statues of Buddha. These statues dated back to the 6th century located in the Bamyan Valley of Central Afghanistan. This eventually led to the adoption of the United Nations Declaration on Cultural Diversity by UNESCO in November 2001 and UN General Assembly passed Resolution no. 57/249 proclaiming 21 May as the World Day of Cultural Diversity for Dialogue and Development.
The main objective behind observance of the World Day of Cultural Diversity for Dialogue and Development is to enhance the potential of culture as a means of peace, stability, prosperity, and sustainable development.
In 2005, UNESCO adopted the Convention on Protection and Promotion of Diversity of Cultural Expressions. The Convention strives to achieve four main goals. These are :
- Support sustainable systems of governance for culture
- Achieve a balanced flow of cultural goods and services and increase mobility of artists and cultural professionals
- Integrate culture in sustainable development frameworks
- Promote human rights and fundamental freedoms
Cultural Diversity: Definition, Examples & Importance
In order to truly appreciate and acknowledge the importance of World Day on Cultural Diversity for Dialogue and Development, it is important to understand the meaning of cultural diversity in letter and spirit.
What is cultural diversity?
Culture Diversity means the co-existence of different cultural and ethnic groups within a society. Culture in itself is a broad term. It is a summation of various life aspects including beliefs, values, norms, and behavior. Anything associated with our “way of being” depicts our culture. Any region or place, accommodating different ways of being, reflects cultural diversity.
What are the examples of cultural diversity?
From countries like the US and India to your own classroom and workplaces, there are various examples of cultural diversity.
To understand this better, let’s take the example of the US. The country is home to people of different races, ethnicity, languages, religion, and many more other cultural aspects.
Based on race and ethnicity, America has white Americans, Non-Hispanic whites, Hispanic and Latino, Black and African American, Asian, Native Americans, and others. Based on religion, America is a mixture of the population following protestant Christians, Catholic Christians, Jews, Muslims, Atheists, and other religions. Similarly, on the basis of language, people living in America can be segregated into English speaking, Chinese speaking, Spanish speaking, French speaking, Arabic speaking, etc. All of this beautifully showcases the cultural diversity of America.
What is the importance of cultural diversity?
Cultural diversity teaches us a lot both consciously and subconsciously. A culturally diverse society can contribute effectively to the overall progress of the society. We are exposed to new knowledge, learning, and varied experiences. In a culturally diverse society, we also evolve as individuals and continuously learn about acceptability, empathy, mutual respect for each other, tolerance, etc. All of this makes us better prepared to face the future and it contributes significantly to the overall upliftment of mankind.