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To promote the rich diversity in Bangladesh that ensures tolerance and peaceful co-existence among different identities, United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) has taken a new initiative “Diversity for Peace”, under its Partnerships for a Tolerant and Inclusive Bangladesh (PTIB) project.

“Diversity for Peace” initiative is driven to promote the value of diversity, draw strength from the principles of inclusion, tolerance and create more connections and mutual understanding among diverse identities.

The initiative will address ethnic, religious, linguistic, gender and other diversities in Bangladesh society. As a part of that, UNDP along with Bandhu Social Welfare Society (BSWS) invited the first trans Bharatanatyam dancer in India, Dr Narthaki Nataraj, who received the prestigious Padma Shri award in 2019 for her exceptional achievements in cultural activities.

Along with her, Essence of Soul, a transgender dance group from Bangladesh, performed on February 28 at Bangladesh National Museum, in front of an audience of 600, while over 50,000 people tuned in to watch online. The event was warmly welcomed by the transgender community of Bangladesh.

The event was graced by the presence of Sudipto Mukerjee, resident representative of UNDP; Anisul Islam Hero, chairman of BSWS and Saleh Ahmed, executive director, BSWS. Later, Sudipto handed over the crest of honour to Dr Nataraj. While attending the event Sudipto said “In recent decades, we see the global perspectives moving towards building walls, creating divisions and showing less acceptance to people belongs to different identities. But human civilisation needs to ensure equality, respect diversity and build tolerance. We must value and appreciate the diversity we live in.”

An open concert was also organised, brimming with the rippling energy of youth, titled “Concert for Diversity” on the leap day at Fine Arts Institute, University of Dhaka. The concert, jointly organized by UNDP, Institute for Environment and Development (IED), and Madal (an indigenous band) boasted a lineup of nine local and indigenous bands, such as F Minor, Bangla Five, Kremlin etc in a bid to garner a greater understanding for the cultural and ethnic diversity that the county hosts.

The uncharted treasure trove of indigenous music instilled a new-found appreciation within the mass, further strengthening the ties the bind us together through music. Over 2,000 people attended this event while 20,000 tuned in online.

Inaugurating the event, Van Nguyen, Deputy Resident Representative, UNDP, said “Each of us are unique and different, so we must appreciate our differences. We must change our attitude and show mutual respect among different identities to ensure peaceful co-existence and peace.”

Along with others, Robert Stoleman, Senior Programme Manager, UNDP was also present.

Without peace and justice, we cannot hope for sustainable development. We are living in a world that is increasingly divided. This is by no means inevitable and must be addressed. The “Diversity for Peace” initiative will directly contribute to SDG-16 by organising several innovative and creative events.

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