On 21st February, the world celebrates International Mother Language Day. Established by UNESCO in 1999 as a day to promote linguistic and cultural diversity, it is needed more than ever. With 7,097 known living languages, according to UNESCO, there are 2.3 billion people who lack access to education in their own languages.
Marking International Mother Language Day, Rushanara Ali said:
“It is with great pride that I mark Bengali Language Day. After so many students and activists gave their lives in the mass protests on 21 February 1952 in Dhaka, it is with a sense of great honour and respect that Bangladeshis around the world pay tribute to their sacrifice for an independent Bangladesh.”
“We commemorate this sacrifice by celebrating Bangladesh’s richly diverse culture and heritage. Throughout history, people have given their lives to defend linguistic and culture diversity and International Mother Language Day focuses the world’s attention on the importance of protecting marginalized languages. Thanks to the efforts of those who have sacrificed so much in the past, our communities are given the chance to flourish by being able to freely express themselves in their mother-tongue.”
“With these messages of equality, freedom and tolerance in mind, I wish you all a wonderful Ekushe February.”