International Men’s Day

International Men’s Day (IMD) is celebrated on 19 November each year in over 60 countries across Australasia, the Caribbean, North America, Asia, Europe and Africa.

Although only inaugurated in 1999 in Trinidad & Tobago, attempts to acknowledge an International Men’s Day have repeatedly been made since the 1960s when it was reported that “many men have been agitating privately to make 23 Feb International Men’s Day, the equivalent of 8 March, which is International Women’s Day”. [1]

In 1968 American Journalist John P. Harris wrote about the Soviet system which promoted an International Women’s Day without an equivalent day for male workers, which he felt demonstrated a serious flaw in the Communist system which, “makes much of the equal rights it has given the sexes, but as it turns out, the women are much more equal than the men”. [2]

Whilst International Men’s Day in November and International Women’s Day in March of each year are both considered ‘gender focussed’ events, this is where the similarity ends. IMD is primarily concerned with celebrating issues considered unique to men and boys’ experiences and the emphasis on positive role models “is deemed necessary in a social context which is often fascinated with images of males behaving badly…”. In highlighting positive male role models IMD attempts to show that males of all ages respond much more energetically to positive role models than they do to negative stereotyping.” [3]

Speaking on behalf of UNESCO in 2001, Director of Women and Culture of Peace Ingeborg Breines has stated that IMD is “an excellent idea and would give some gender balance” and that UNESCO was looking forward to cooperating with the organisers.

[1] By BERNARD GWERTZMAN – Special to The New York Times (24 February 1969).“Armed Forces Day in Soviet Marked by Rhetoric and Parties; Article, (February 24, 1969) in New York Times”. Retrieved 20 November 2011
[2] John P. Harris, ‘Red Women – Painted Town’, Salina Journal, p.4. 28 March 1964
[3] Thompson, J. [article] ‘Origins and Evolution: Perspectives of Two International Days’ In Search Of Fatherhood Journal, 2010
[4]’UNESCO comes out in Support of International Men’s Day’, Article Trinidad Guardian 20 Nov 2001 & “International Men’s Day Global Website Archive 1999–2000”.