International Mother Language Day was announced by UNESCO in 1999. It recognizes the importance of language and cultural diversity all across the world. In 1948, the Government of the Dominion of Pakistan declared Urdu as the sole national language even though the majority of people spoke Bengali, sparking extensive protests. Facing mass opposition, the government outlawed public meetings and rallies. University students in Dhaka and other political activists defied the law. When police killed four student demonstrators, civil unrest increased. After four years of violence, the central government granted official status to the Bengali language. On November 17, 1999, UNESCO proposed a day to encourage awareness of language and cultural diversity all across the world. Since then International Mother Language Day has been celebrated every year on February 21, the anniversary of the death of the four students. Languages are the most powerful way to preserve and develop a culture. International Mother Language Day is celebrated all over the world.
As an international congregation, the School Sisters of Notre Dame understand the richness and challenges of living interculturally. “We expand our understanding of interculturality and commit to developing skills for intercultural living in community and society.” (YAS, GD 36)