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International Mother Language Day

International Mother Language Day 2019

International Mother Language Day is every year celebrated on February 21 since the year 2000. It was first recognized in November 1999, when the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) brought the subject in the UN General Conference. Later, the resolution was welcomed by the UN General Assembly in 2002.

History behind Mother Language Day

A language movement was held by the people of Bangladesh (the then Pakistan) in 1952 in Dhaka.

Post independence, Pakistan government declared Urdu as its national language. However, the idea was not approved by the people living in East Pakistan as their mother language was Bangla. They wanted Bangla to get an acceptance as one of the official languages to be spoken and used in their country.

On February 21, 1952, students from the University of Dhaka held a massive protest against the decision.

In 1956, the government agreed to grant official status to Bangla. Although Bangaldesh became independent in 1971, it still celebrates the International Mother Language Day on February 21, observing a national holiday.

UN outlined the term — Mother Language Day

On 16 May 2007 the United Nations General Assembly in its resolution A/RES/61/266 called upon member states “to promote the preservation and protection of all languages used by peoples of the world”.

International Mother Language Day 2019

This year, the United Nations is celebrating the International Mother Language Day by asking for a proverb from people across the globe on the following topics:

  • Peace
  • Harmony
  • Conflict resolution/competence to deal with conflict
  • Mindfulness
  • Resilience
  • Well-being.

UN’s Message

“Indigenous peoples have always expressed their desire for education in their own languages, as set out in the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples. Since 2019 is the International Year of Indigenous Languages, the theme of this year’s International Mother Language Day will be indigenous languages as a factor in development, peace and reconciliation.
Indigenous peoples number some 370 million and their languages account for the majority of the approximately 7,000 living languages on Earth. Many indigenous peoples continue to suffer from marginalization, discrimination and extreme poverty, and are the victims of human-rights violations (…). On this International Mother Language Day, I thus invite all UNESCO Member States, our partners and education stakeholders to recognize and enforce the rights of indigenous peoples.”

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