About International Mother Language Day
International Mother Language Day was proclaimed by the General Conference of the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) in November 1999. The UN General Assembly welcomed the proclamation of the day in its resolution of 2002.
History of International Mother Language Day
On this day in 1952 students of Dhaka University and some social activists staged a protest to maintain the existence of their mother tongue. The protest soon turned into a massacre. 16 people were killed in this incident.
Although it has been a United Nations initiative since 2002, the original idea to mark the day came from Bangladeshi migrants living in Canada who successfully petitioned the then UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan, to take action to save languages from extinction.
The efforts of the Bangladeshi people to protect their language is honoured by UNESCO which established February 21st as International Mother Language Day in 2000. The intention of the day is to promote awareness of linguistic and cultural diversity and multilingualism.
According to the United Nations, approximately 6,000 languages spoken across the world are at risk of extinction with a language disappearing every fortnight. As well as promoting intercultural dialogue and respect, languages are proven to also play important roles in the sustainable development of communities and the preservation of cultural heritage.Find out more