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Today Is World Day For Cultural Diversity For Dialogue And Development
May 21, 2013
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(Image: Do One Thing For Diversity and Inclusion/Facebook)

May 21st is the UN World Day for Cultural Diversity for Dialogue and Development.

The name may be a bit of a mouthful, but its heart is in the right place: today is an opportunity to deepen our understanding of the values of cultural diversity and learn to live with one another better.

According to the UN site, the Day for Cultural Diversity is meant "to build a world community of individuals committed to support diversity with real and everyday-life gestures and combat polarization and stereotypes to improve understanding and cooperation among people from different cultures."

Building that world will require action from many individuals. To that end, UNESCO and UN Alliance of Civilization launched a campaign called 'Do One Thing For Diversity and Inclusion' in 2011.

Check out the campaign's Facebook page, which urges people to "do more than just share or like this post - if everyone Does One Thing for Diversity and Inclusion, then we will create a more peaceful planet."

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(Image: Do One Thing For Diversity and Inclusion/Facebook)

Canada is often held up as a model for this kind of amiable coexistence - we're well known for our cultural diversity.

One way to see how diverse we really are is through language: according to Stats Can, over 200 languages are spoken in Canadian households.

In total, 20.6 per cent of Canadians (or 6.8 million people) reported a mother tongue other than English or French.

Also, visible minorities are projected to increase from 16.2 per cent of the population in 2006 to approximately 30 per cent by 2031.

But Canada, like everywhere else on Earth, still faces challenges with regards to diversity. That's why a campaign like this is required - and maybe it's needed more in some places than others.

The Washington Post recently looked at World Values Survey data compiled by two Swedish economists, who set out to answer the question of whether economic freedom was linked to tolerance.

Niclas Berggren and Therese Nilsson from the Research Institute of Industrial Economics (IFN) in Prague, Czech Republic and the Department of Economics, Lund University, Lund, Sweden, respectively, examined data from respondents in more than 80 countries.

Those answering the survey were asked to identify kinds of people they would NOT want as neighbours.

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The graph here depicts the percentage share of respondents who said "people of another race" when asked to pick from groups of people they would not want as neighbours, starting at 0 to 4.9 per cent (blue) and going up increments of about five per cent to a high of 40-plus per cent (red).

Only two of 81 surveyed countries had more than 40 per cent of respondents say they would not want a neighbour of a different race, including India (where 43.5 per cent of people responded that way) and 51.4 per cent of Jordanians.

The results were highly variable across Europe, with some surprising results from South Korea and Pakistan.

The former, despite being highly educated and well-off (key predictors) showed high levels of intolerance, whereas Pakistan, plagued by sectarian violence and low economic development, was considerably more tolerant.

These two countries were among a handful of outliers. Generally, Latin American and Anglo countries were beacons of tolerance, with only Venezuela and the Dominican Republic standing out as exceptions.

The results are interesting and worth checking out, although the authors include a couple of caveats: firstly, they point out that people responding to the survey might have lied about their real feelings. And secondly, the survey is not conducted every year, so the data for some countries is several years old, which may skew the results.

Via The Washington Post

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