There has been an “International Women’s Day” in existence ever since the first one on March 8, 1911. Goodness knows, that Women’s Day has been a boon to girls and women ever since then. I’m glad there is an International Women’s Day because girls and women have had to do a lot of catching up with their male counterparts. They still do.
In the interest of gender equality, fair-minded men have felt left out of the benefits of having our own, special day, too. There have been popular requests for a men’s day ever since the 1960s. There have been temporary, informal celebrations of a men’s day in February.
The first November 19th Men’s Day was organized by Dr. Jerome Teelucksingh at the University of the West Indies. He realized that there was a Fathers’ Day, but that celebration left out underaged males and men who were not fathers. Hence, the first official Men’s Day was observed on November 19, 1999. Since then, the event has spread to more than 60 nations around the globe.
The International Men’s Day Committee chose the date largely because it coincides with many important November events. Importantly, it is adjacent to Universal Children’s Day, tomorrow. Organizers say the combination of the days provides a “48 hour celebration of men and children respectively, and of the special relationships they share.” It also falls within “Movember”, the month that men’s health concerns are addressed.
The theme for the 2015 celebration of International Men’s Day is, “Working to expand Reproductive Options for Men”. Such issues as family planning, sexual health, and safe choices are highlighted. Organizers also want to remind society about the importance of fathers and positive male role models.
There are some troubling issues that need urgent attention. Males have a shorter life expectancy than females. We need to do some catching up in this area. Most alarming is that boys and young men commit suicide much more frequently than do girls and young women. Society needs to come together to prevent all suicides and address male-specific reasons for this problem.
Another long-term male problem is that of literacy rates and that boys skip out of school much more often than girls. High literacy is linked to better overall health.
Male instigated and targeted violence is a perenniel problem. Gang related disturbances and domestic violence are difficulties that must be prevented for each generation. Violence is condoned in society at large, but many of us realize that violence should not be taught nor encouraged. Boys and men need to know there are positive, constructive ways to express their energies.
International Men’s Day is not about competing with women, it’s about empowering and supporting each other. Gender equality and cooperation are foremost objectives of the day. We men are celebrated today, because of gender specific problems that we must pay attention to. This is also a good day to show appreciation to and compliment a special guy in your life.