World Day for Cultural Diversity for Dialogue and Development

Lisa Wood / Marketing and Communications Lead | 21/05/2024

A few words about 'World Day for Cultural Diversity for Dialogue and Development' and what it means to a Naimuri employee....

What is World Day for Cultural Diversity for Dialogue and Development?

World Day for Cultural Diversity for Dialogue and Development, sometimes just known as World Day for Cultural Diversity, is a global event led by UNESCO and supported by the United Nations. It began in 2022 and it is celebrated on 21 May.

It’s all about recognising and understanding each other’s differences, but also celebrating these and promoting peace and harmony between everyone around the world.

Not only does this event help people to recognise each other’s differences, but it can also help understand how cultural diversity is key to creating a more harmonious and equitable world.

What does Cultural Diversity mean to me?

World Day for Cultural Diversity is an opportunity for me to reflect on what diversity is within the cultures I interact with. Born and raised within the United Kingdom, which is an ethnically diverse country with many different communities that reflect the multicultural nature of Britain and fortunate enough to have ancestral roots from the Indian subcontinent (South Asia) exposed me to both high and low context cultures at an early age which has helped shaped my thought process.

Being open to diversity has enriched my life experiences and has encouraged me to promote healthy dialogues between people of different cultures and learn about the differences, rather than fearing the unknown and living in a state of blissful ignorance. From my lived experience I have learnt to embrace the similarities and respect the differences that make each individual unique.

I will share a story of my life that confused me when growing up in Britain vs watching Bollywood movies and visiting the countries of my ancestors.

You probably thinking what this has to do with Cultural Diversity, let me enlighten you:

I had knowledge of Transgender, intersex or eunuch people when growing up, in Hindi the word ‘Hijra’ is used, I prefer to use the Urdu word which is ‘Khawaja Sira’, my personal view is this is a more respectful word. I will be using this word throughout the rest of my reflection.

My first experience was through the screen while watching Bollywood movies and Indian dramas, where Khawaja Sira’s were portrayed to hold positions for elite households, manual labourers, military commanders, political advisors, and guardians etc.

During my summer holidays I frequently visited the South Asian countries, and this is where I first met a ‘Khawaja Sira’ and the visual representations of the stories I watched via a screen came to life.

In South Asian culture, it is believed Khawaja Sira have the power to bless or curse and often turn up uninvited to happy occasions to congratulate and spread joy.

I recall one lived experience that still makes me smile. It was after a family wedding and a group of Khawaja Sira came to my relatives’ house to congratulate them for the wedding. They wore bright outfits, danced, and sang songs that I didn’t understand. My Auntie had already prepared gifts for them which she gave to them and one of the Khawaja Sira wanted her necklace, my Auntie was hesitate at first and said it’s a present from her husband, on insistence from the Khawaja Sira or probably the fear of being cursed she removed her necklace and handed it to the Khawaja Sira. I remember my Auntie saying if you are happy, then I am happy.

The South Asian heritage within me never thought people who were transgender, intersex or dressing up as the opposite sex were abnormal in any way as it was very much normalised to me. However, being raised in Britain where this wasn’t acceptable it often caused conflict in my mind, but I went with the justification from my South Asian culture that was more aligned with my values vs my British cultural values.

I researched why in Britain this wasn’t the norm and through my research I found some interesting insight which I will summarise here:

  1. The Transgender community has been part of the Indian subcontinent since the beginning of its civilisation.

  2. The community thrived during the Pre-Colonial era.

  3. Franciscan travellers in the 1650s noticed the presence of men and boys who dressed like women.

  4. During the era of British- Raj, the authorities tried to eradicate the Transgender community because they were perceived as a breach of public decency.

  5. The British colonisers also placed the Transgender community under the Criminal Tribes Acts of 1871 and labelled them a ‘criminal tribe’ which included strict monitoring, compulsory registration, and stigmatisation.

  6. Post-colonial era the community were denotifed from The Criminal Tribes Act in 1952, however the centuries old stigma and false discriminatory notion were being preached from people of high power and colonisers that it eventually stuck and the discrimination against the transgender community continued.

This experience enabled me to understand why in Britain this wasn’t acceptable and why in the former British colonies’ discrimination was the norm. However, for me, having the cultural awareness that I did, this enabled me to not only understand the differences but appreciate it and this shows how culture diversity can contribute to your growth journey and enable you to understand fellow human beings.

Cultural Diversity and Naimuri

Organisations I have worked within the past have cultures within cultures, there is an organisation culture, a team culture and then a Them vs Us culture. Within Naimuri their culture is driven by the core values of Integrity, Accountability, Pride and Passion, Courage, Ambition and Initiative, Collaboration and Caring and the culture is implemented and driven bottom up rather than bottom down.

Naimuri culture lives up to its name of not overburdening you and you can truly bring your authentic self to work. There is no need to hide yourself, if you are feeling overwhelmed or exhausted, support is always available and there is a culture to support each other, being open-minded and embracing new ways of working and it is truly an environment where there is no such thing as a stupid question.

To conclude, Culture diversity is the driving force of development, not only with respect to professional growth but also as a means of leading a more fulfilling intellectual, emotional, moral, and spiritual life.

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