International Men’s Day is held every year on 19 November. It is a special occasion to acknowledge the contribution of positive male role models in not only the family but also society.
The idea of a special day dedicated to men might come across as odd in some sections because toxic masculinity is still a major and apparently ever-present social issue in the world. However, it is important to note that there are also men who have made significant contributions to improving the lives of everyone around them by making them feel loved, showing them respect, encouraging them to pursue their ambitions, and instilling progressive values in them by example.
International Men’s Day is about such role models, many of whom may be unsung heroes who have made personal sacrifices to ensure that their loved ones get to live peaceful, fulfilling, enriching and exciting lives.
It is significant to note that the idea of having a special day for men is also to help them understand, nurture or strengthen their societal, cultural and humanitarian values and ensure a fair and safe society.
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Awareness about men’s health is another area where International Men’s Day plays a very significant role. According to Harvard Health Publishing of the Harvard Medical School, men not only die at a younger age than women but are also more prone to illness during life.
“Men are nearly 10 times more likely to get inguinal hernias than women, and five times more likely to have aortic aneurysms,” says Harvard.
In a 2018 report about men’s health in the European Region, the World Health Organization said that 86 percent of all male deaths can be attributed to noncommunicable diseases and injuries.
According to the WHO, cardiovascular diseases, cancers, diabetes and respiratory diseases were the main causes of death among men in the region. Injuries were the second biggest cause of death for men and the main cause of death among boys aged 5–19.
In other words, men, whether in the European Region or anywhere else in the world, face very serious health risks which, as per several studies, they often tend to completely ignore or downplay.
International Men’s Day is, therefore, aimed at making men not only more progressive in their outlook on society but also spreading awareness about their personal health and taking it seriously.
Here’s what you must know about International Men’s Day and this year’s theme
Australia-based Dads4Kids Fatherhood Foundation is known for its sponsorship of International Men’s Day celebration. According to the foundation, there are ‘six pillars of men’s day’ which govern its founding principles. They are:
1. Promoting positive male role models, including working-class men,
2. Celebrating positive contributions by men to society as well as the environment,
3. Focusing on men’s health and well-being,
4. Highlighting discrimination against men, including under the law,
5. Promoting gender equality and improving gender relations,
6. Creating a safe world.
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What is the theme of International Men’s Day 2022?
International Men’s Day theme for 2022 is “Helping Men and Boys.” According to Dads4Kids Fatherhood Foundation, the theme specifically underlines one of the six pillars — men’s health and well-being — but is also in line with the other pillars which aid men either directly or indirectly.
As part of the 2022 theme, the foundation highlights a point raised by Dr. Warren Farrell, co-author of The Boy Crisis — Why Our Boys Are Struggling and What We Can Do About It.
“Boys are declining in a dramatic way in virtually every key metric… that’s what the Boy Crisis is all about,” Dr. Farrell is quoted as saying.
“Our mission this year is to help individuals, families, churches, communities, small businesses and corporations, including NGOs and governments, to work together to help men and boys,” the foundation says on its official website.
Additionally, the foundation as well as its official website for International Men’s Day shared the thoughts of Cassie Jaye, the director of The Red Pill, which she famously said in a TEDx talk in October 2017.
“After years of researching and fact-checking what the men’s rights activists were telling me, there is no denying that there are many human rights issues that disproportionately or uniquely affect men,” Jaye said at TEDx.
The official website of International Men’s Day adds that the day “encourages men to teach the boys in their lives the values, character and responsibilities of being a man.”
The website also underscores the significance of the month of November to the event known as “Movember.”
Many men around the world especially keep a moustache throughout the month to raise awareness about men’s health. Fundraisers are also organised around the world to raise money for men’s health causes and other issues such as prostate cancer, suicide prevention and mental well-being.
The International Men’s Day website notes that 20 November is celebrated as International Children’s Day. As such, it helps create a 48-hour period celebrating both men, children and their relationships.
A special theme in Australia
Australian Men’s Health Forum (AMHF) has its own International Men’s Day website. On 10 August 2022, they shared a statement by AMHF CEO Glen Poole, who is also the founder of the organisation Stop Male Suicide.
Poole called for a special theme titled “Celebrating Mateship” to mark International Men’s Day on 19 November in Australia.
“Mateship is a key feature of Australian national identity and has a particular association with close male friendships,” Poole’s statement reads.
“In Australian culture, mateship is often viewed as an archetypical masculine value and virtue. So many strengths-based, men’s health projects have harnessed this positive, masculine trait,” writes Poole.
The origin of International Men’s Day
The first International Men’s Day was held as an annual event on 7 February 1992. It was organised by Thomas Oaster, an American professor of the Missouri Center for Men’s Studies at the University of Missouri–Kansas City. However, the lack of its popularity led to the event’s discontinuation.
The event was revived in 1999 by Dr. Jerome Teelucksingh, a history professor at the University of the West Indies in Trinidad and Tobago. He held International Men’s Day on 19 November — a date he picked to pay tribute to his father who was born on that date.
Dr. Teelucksingh’s efforts led to the recognition and acceptance of International Men’s Day around the world. Celebrations began in several countries on the date, including Australia in 2003 and India in 2007.
Not to rival International Women’s Day
While International Women’s Day has been celebrated since 1909, discussions for a similar day dedicated to men started only in the 1960s.
These discussions were around the idea that many men have made positive contributions to society, and there was a need to talk about their well-being.
As such, a day for men was not conceived in response to International Women’s Day but to highlight the health issues faced by men around the world.
It is best underlined by Dr. Teelucksingh’s own thoughts about International Men’s Day.
“The concept and themes of International Men’s Day are designed to give hope to the depressed, faith to the lonely, comfort to the broken-hearted, transcend barriers, eliminate stereotypes and create a more caring humanity,” Dr. Teelucksingh is quoted as saying in the founder’s statement on the International Men’s Day website.
Today, International Women’s Day is a major international event held every year on 8 March. It has made a tremendous contribution to promoting gender equality and is one of the greatest movements of the 20th century.
The historically significant day known around the world, it is also recognised by the United Nations — a status that is not enjoyed by International Men’s Day.
How to celebrate International Men’s Day?
It is important to recognise the contribution of men in society as part of International Men’s Day. Celebrated around the world, diverse groups can have their own unique programmes or any scale to mark the event and honour positive role models of the neighbourhood, society or city.
The International Men’s Day website has an official certificate that anyone can use to recognise men or boys for making a difference.
On a more personal level, people can buy expensive gifts in appreciation for men who have made a difference in their lives. There is no dearth of expensive gifts for men. Among the many things that can be purchased for men are Apple Watch Series 8, a Dior luxury gardening set, and premium shaving kits.
Raising awareness about men’s health is important for all. Since the theme of International Men’s Day 2022 is “Helping Men and Boys,” the event is a great way for all well-meaning people to express their admiration for men and boys in their lives with messages of hope, love, inspiration and thanks.
Additionally, it is also a great occasion to help men with health issues, whether in the family or a circle of friends, and show them that they have the support of a lot of good people.
For those who are looking to celebrate this day, the internet offers a plethora of amazing International Men’s Day wishes for sharing on social media platforms such as Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and WhatsApp. Additionally, some of the funniest memes can bring a smile to the faces of boys and men of any age group.
(Main image: Matheus Ferrero/@matheusferrero/Unsplash; Featured image: Kristino Boxers/@kristinoboxers/Unsplash)