21 February: International Mother Language Day

The International Mother Language Day (IMLD) was observed across the world on 21 February to promote awareness of linguistic, multilingualism and cultural diversity. This year it is the 18th anniversary of IMLD.
The observance of this day signifies importance of mother language as the greatest weapon to express one’s feeling. Mother Language of one country is the sign of independence of that country. It is most powerful instruments of preserving and developing tangible and intangible heritage.
The theme of 2018 International Mother Language Day is ‘Linguistic diversity and multilingualism count for sustainable development‘. It requires mastery over mother tongue to foster sustainable development. It seeks to highlight importance local languages that transmit cultures, values and traditional knowledge for promoting sustainable futures. Observance of this day also supports target 6 of Goal 4 of Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) which states that ensure that all youth and a substantial proportion of adults, both men and women, achieve literacy and numeracy.


The International Mother Language Day was instituted by tUnited Nations General Assembly (UNGA) by passing resolution 61/266 in 2007. The resolution had called upon member states “to promote the preservation and protection of all languages used by peoples of the world.
Since 2007, it is observed annually by member states to promote linguistic and cultural diversity and multilingualism. The day was first proclaimed by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) in November 1999 to promote linguistic and cultural diversity and multilingualism.
The day, February 21 in 1952 assumes special significance in Bangladesh where scores of people (activists), mostly students and teachers of the Dhaka University, were mercilessly shot down by the Pakistani army when Bangladesh was East Pakistan. The activists had protested against imposition of Urdu as the national language side-stepping Bengali – their mother tongue and the protest came to be known as Language Movement.



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