World Day for Cultural Diversity for Dialogue and Development

World Day for Cultural Diversity for Dialogue and Development

May 21, 2019

Today marks the 18th consecutive year of the World Day for Cultural Diversity for Dialogue and Development, also known as Diversity Day. It is a holiday which was coined by the United Nations (UN) due to the forcible destruction of two 6th century statues, the Buddhas of Bamiyan in Afghanistan in 2001. As a result of this tragedy, the UN dedicated a day to give communities the opportunity to not only understand the current issues facing the cultural divide in our society today, but to appreciate the values of cultural diversity; promote cultural education and learn ways to live together harmoniously with other cultures. But what is cultural diversity?

The concept of cultural diversity is to foster respect and recognise the differences between cultures to harness understanding and promote trust of one another. The term culture is the ingredient which shapes our identities and moulds us into who we are whilst diversity incorporates all the differences that make us unique. Therefore, cultural diversity encompasses but is not limited to the shared beliefs, language, religion, norms, gender, values and behaviours which have been passed down generations. Today provides us with the opportunity to deepen our understanding on this and as the Director-General of UNESCO, Audrey Azoulay, reiterates “cultural diversity requires learning, learning about otherness, the ability to shift focus away from oneself, to dialogue and to recognize the value concealed in each culture.”

There are many things as individuals we can do to celebrate Diversity Day. It doesn’t necessary need to be a fancy million pounds’ conference or the need to travel to the other side of the world. There are simple yet niche ways in which you can celebrate the day locally such as:

  • Visiting a museum which is dedicated to learning about cultures and appreciating the cultural value to society. Here in the UK we are extremely lucky that majority of the museums are free to attend by people of all ages!
  • Learn about another religion. At the moment, Muslims are celebrating the holy month of Ramadan and there are many open iftar (breaking of the fast) initiatives across the UK which you can attend to learn, make friends and bridge gaps.
  • If you enjoy watching movies or TV series, plan an international movie night with your family and friends. There are some great international movies on Netflix and Amazon Prime which I can vouch for giving you an opportunity to open your eyes to the cultural diversity of the world. What more, there is nothing like immersing yourself into a culture than learning another language whether it be Arabic, Russian, Spanish or German.
  • Speak to people who have different cultural backgrounds to you. The more you open your mind to different cultures, the more you will be able to understand and develop meaningful relationship with one another. By speaking with one another you will have the power to dispel biasness, discrimination and racism. 
  • Volunteer your time with an organisation which works towards diversity and inclusion. As communities around us become more and more diverse, we need to make sure that this is reflected within the working environments.  We need to make sure that all members of societies are being included in an effort to level the playing field. At UpRising, we very much believe in breaking barriers and promoting diversity in leadership.   

It is important to remember that today is a day of celebration of the various cultures in the world. But it is not a one-day initiative. We need to continue to support cultural diversity whenever we have the opportunity in order to create peace, stability and socio-economic development whether that is home or abroad. If viewed correctly cultural diversity can be one of our greatest strengths to form bridges and create unity!   


Photo by UNESCO.