May 21 is the World Day for Cultural Diversity for Dialogue and Development when we celebrate the diversity within our communities and aim to emphasize the importance of a culturally diverse society. The UN established this day as a way to acknowledge culture’s importance in terms of sustainable development, and the crucial part it plays in achieving it.
Dr. Caleb Rosado, a research leader in the study of multi-culturalism, defined cultural diversity as:
“A system of beliefs and behaviors that recognizes and respects the presence of all diverse groups in an organization or society…encourages and enables their continued contribution within an inclusive cultural context, which empowers all within the organization or society.”
Cultural diversity in a society facilitates cross-cultural communication and fosters understanding between different societal groups. When different groups can co-exist in harmony, the risk of conflict is reduced.
Imagine a working environment filled entirely with people who look the same, think the same and act the same as you. A lack of diversity leaves little room for new perspectives to emerge while old, lived-in beliefs remain stagnant.
In the aftermath of the COVID-19 pandemic, the cultural sector is struggling more than ever. With the global closure of cultural heritage sites, cultural event cancellation, and cultural practices put to an abrupt stop, most of us have not had the opportunity to travel and experience cultures different to our own for the best part of two years. The impact is not only social but economic.
A recent report shows that the cultural sector is responsible for around 29.5 million jobs worldwide, almost all of which were negatively affected by the pandemic. With these industries trying to regain their footing after collapsing it is crucial that we support them.
Here are some ways you can celebrate the UN Day for Cultural Diversity this year:
- Visit a local cultural heritage site or museum.
- Learn about powerful female figures you share a culture.
- Discover powerful female figures from cultures you would like to learn more about.
- Take a moment to think about your own cultural identity and how your environment has shaped your beliefs and who you are today.
Hannah Wilson is a recent modern languages and business graduate currently working as an English teacher in Spain. She is passionate about education and working towards the goal of making education accessible and affordable for all. She is also the founder of a small business designing and selling custom footwear. She is always looking to learn and develop her awareness of global issues, in particular issues affecting women and marginalized groups.