International Men’s Day – what’s it all about?

International Men’s Day (IMD) is an annual international event celebrated on November 19. Inaugurated in 1999 in Trinidad and Tobago, the day and its events find support from a variety of individuals and groups in Australia, the Caribbean, North America, Asia, Europe, Africa, and the United Nations.

Speaking on behalf of UNESCO, Director of Women and Culture of Peace Ingeborg Breines said of IMD, “This is an excellent idea and would give some gender balance.” She added that UNESCO was looking forward to cooperating with IMD organizers.

The objectives of celebrating an International Men’s Day include focusing on men’s and boy’s health, improving gender relations, promoting gender equality, and highlighting positive male role models. It is an occasion to highlight discrimination against men and boys and to celebrate their achievements and contributions, in particular for their contributions to community, family, marriage, and child care.

International Men’s Day is celebrated in over 50 countries, including Trinidad and Tobago, Jamaica, Australia, India, China, United States, Singapore, Malta, United Kingdom, South Africa, Moldova, Hungary, Ireland, Ghana, Canada, Denmark, Austria, France, Pakistan, Antigua and Barbuda, St. Kitts and Nevis, Grenada and Italy, on November 19, and global support for the celebration is broad.

According to its creators, International Men’s Day is a time to highlight discrimination against men and boys in areas of health, family law, education, media or other areas and to project their positive contributions and achievements. During past years the method of commemorating International Men’s Day included public seminars, classroom activities at schools, radio and television programs, peaceful displays and marches, debates, panel discussions, and art displays.The manner of observing this annual day is optional, and any appropriate forums can be used.

Early pioneers of IMD reminded that the day is not intended to compete against International Women’s Day, but is for the purpose of highlighting men’s experiences. Each year a secondary theme is suggested, such as peace in 2002, men’s health in 2003, healing and forgiveness in 2007, or positive male role models in 2009, although it is not compulsory to adopt these themes and participants are welcome to come up with their own to suit their needs and local concerns. In 2009 the following broad objectives were ratified as a basis for all International Men’s Day observations:

• To promote positive male role models not just movie stars and sports men but everyday, working class men who are living decent, honest lives.

• To celebrate men’s positive contributions to society, community, family, marriage, child care, and to the environment
• To focus on men’s health and wellbeing social, emotional, physical and spiritual
• To highlight discrimination against men in areas of social services, social attitudes and expectations, and law
• To improve gender relations and promote gender equality
• To create a safer, better world where people can be safe and grow to reach their full potential

According to Mens Activism News Network International Men’s Day also interfaces with ‘Movember’ – a worldwide moustache growing charity event held during November each year that raises funds and awareness for men’s health, one of the key themes promoted on IMD.It also interfaces with Universal Children’s Day on Nov 20 and forms a 48 hour celebration firstly of men, then children respectively, with a recognition of the bonds between them.

In England the event was inaugurated in 2008 by University of Kent students who celebrated International Men’s Day at Mungos Bistro on the university campus on November 19. This event was organized and coordinated by the Kent University student organization ‘Raise and Give’ (or RAG as it is better known). RAG is Kent Union’s charitable arm located in the Student Activities Center which raises money for various charities each year. Activities for IMD night included live soccer coverage of England v Germany, comedy acts and live music from student band “Clacket Lane”. There was a raffle, a guitar hero competition and an Xbox tournament to raise money. About 300 people attended with roughly equal numbers of males and females. All proceeds raised went to ORCHID a charity for all male cancers, including prostate, penile or testicular cancer.

In November 2010 the Brighton Men’s Network organised an IMD conference event for the city of Brighton for professionals, experts and people interested in helping the city in improving services for men and boys. Chair of the Men’s Network Glen Poole stated that public sector bosses, the voluntary sector, business leaders and concerned individuals will come together and explore how to help all men and boys live more fulfilled lives and make a bigger contribution to the city, and concluded, “This event will be an important step towards getting people to agree on the actions we need to take and help us develop the world’s first citywide strategy for men and boys that we aim to launch next year.”

At Hartlepool, Rossmere Youth Centre hosted an IMD evening for boys and girls between the ages of 13 and 19 focused on health, gender equality and promoting male role models. Activities included rides on a rodeo bull, a Gladiators-style event, an Indian head massage, and dressing up in sumo suits. Organisations Springboard, Nacro and Jobsmart attended to give information and advice on training opportunities.

 On Nov 19th 2010 Tiemo Entertainment sponsored a ‘Celebration of Men Dinner’ in London’s Hotel Ibis in Euston, with Keynote Speaker Mr Damion Queva – Publisher of Fathers Quarterly magazine. Discussions were conducted on the topic, “What is the purpose of International Men’s Day?” and attendees were treated to a wide ranging discussion of some of the key issues facing men today. The mixed panel of professionals (including women) included Investment Analyst, Michael Young, HR Manager, Beverley Green, Builder and Reach Role Model Hylton Forrester, Wendy Forrester, Michael Peters, Polish Publisher Anna Prochon and the Keynote speaker Damion Queva, Publisher of Fathers Quarterly magazine in the UK.

Northern Ireland

In Northern Ireland 2010 Deputy Mayor of Newry and Mourne Council, Cllr Karen Mc Kevitt launched the Magnet Young Men’s Health Event,’ on Friday 19 November. The event was attended by men from across the district and representatives from local statutory, voluntary and community organisations were organised to celebrate the 19 November as International Men’s Day. Deputy Mayor, Cllr Mc Kevitt said, ‘It is a great idea to give an issue that has an international perspective a local focus. All men need to look after their health and take advantage of the services and help that is out there, as we all do. But it is particularly good to see an event that looks at the barriers that young men may be facing and brings together people from all organisations across the district to look at what can be done to work together to make things better.’ The event offered opportunities for men to have health checks with experienced staff from Action Cancer, and speakers such as Dr. Ken Harland (University of Ulster’s Centre of Young Men’s studies), Peter Mc Donald, a senior child care worker from Giggles Daycare nursery, and local athlete Ronan Murtagh shared their own insight into the choices young men make and the opportunities that are out there for young men today. Also in attendance was Jerome Burns, Assistant Director, Department for Social Development. Jerome stated, ‘The department for Social Development is delighted to support local initiatives that work with young men to highlight inequalities in health.’

Scotland

IMD was inaugurated in Scotland in 2010. The event was endorsed by the Government of Scotland and by the Men’s Health Forum of Scotland (MHFS). The MHFS celebrated the day with a roundtable event to promote the health and wellbeing of men and boys by bringing together key people and organisations. The focus of the event was to discuss the rationale for developing a national men’s health policy in Scotland. The event took place at Elliot House, the office of NHS Quality Improvement Scotland (QIS) in Edinburgh, where there were representations from Scottish Government, NHS Leads and Directors in the Voluntary Health Sector who discussed the issues and set up a short term task group to take this work forward. Jim Leishman, Men’s Health Coordinator, NHS Forth Valley said: “This event was a huge opportunity to drive through improvements in men’s health in Scotland.”

Wales

In 2011 The Welsh Government was accused by Tory councillor Peter Davies of sex discrimination for supporting International Women’s Day with grants totalling £30,000 while ignoring International Men’s Day. Davies stated, “I don’t particularly object to the Welsh Government spending money on International Women’s Day, but I would have thought that with its commitment to equality it would also be happy to recognise International Men’s Day, which will be celebrated this Saturday.”

* Taken from http://www.mensday.ws/en/about.php

Leave a Reply