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International Mother Language Day–UN Headquarters Event

21 February @ 3:00 PM - 5:00 PM UTC-5

students reading in classSix-year-old students in a special language class common to all schools in high mountain areas of Viet Nam with a large ethnic minority population. In this class, students study both languages – their mother tongue and Vietnamese. PHOTO:UNICEF/Hoang Le Vu

International Mother Language Day
Event at UN Headquarters

Tuesday, 21 February 2023, from 3 to 5 p.m. (EST)

The Permanent Mission of Bangladesh to the UN is organizing a discussion with senior officials from Permanent Missions (including Bangladesh, Denmark, Guatemala, Hungary, India, Morocco and Timor-Leste) and the United Nations (including UN Secretariat and UNESCO representatives) on the theme “Multilingual education – a necessity to transform education.” The discussion segment will be followed by multicultural performances. The event will be streamed on UN WebTV.

Safeguarding Linguistic Diversity

Languages, with their complex implications for identity, communication, social integration, education and development, are of strategic importance for people and planet. Yet, due to globalization processes, they are increasingly under threat, or disappearing altogether. When languages fade, so does the world’s rich tapestry of cultural diversity. Opportunities, traditions, memory, unique modes of thinking and expression — valuable resources for ensuring a better future — are also lost.

Every two weeks a language disappears taking with it an entire cultural and intellectual heritage. At least 43% of the estimated 6000 languages spoken in the world are endangered. Only a few hundred languages have genuinely been given a place in education systems and the public domain, and less than a hundred are used in the digital world.

Multilingual and multicultural societies exist through their languages, which transmit and preserve traditional knowledge and cultures in a sustainable way.

International Mother Language Day is observed every year to promote linguistic and cultural diversity and multilingualism.


CoNGO Notes: The NGO Committee on Language and Languages is a Substantive Committee of the Conference of NGOs in Consultative Relationship with the United Nations. For more information, please email the chair at Likewise, for more information on the NGO Committee on Education, Learning, and Literacy, please visit