Last week, specifically 19th of November, I noticed something called International Men’s Day. Never before had I heard about this day and to be honest, I thought it was something made up. There are so many “days” now on social media! We have singles day, Chocolate day, Pancake Day and I’m guessing a hundred more. I thought that this was just another day to celebrate something, something to talk about at lunch or a reason for a glass of wine with dinner.
But I Googled it, an according to ukmensday, it is an annual international event celebrated in over 80 countries on 19th November. It was inaugurated in 1999 in Trinidad and Tobago and has backing from UNESCO. It’s a day where everyone can come together and celebrate men and boys and their diversity, and also to promote 6 key objectives, or pillars as they call them. Please read them here.
In the UK, men remain three times as likely to take their own lives as women, and in Ireland they are four times more likely. The highest suicide rate in the UK was for men aged 45-49, and in Ireland it was for men aged 25-34 – with an almost identical rate for men aged 45-54.
Men are also more likely to consume alcohol excessively, more likely to engage in violent and risky behaviors and less likely to admit pain, seek medical advice or have a strong social network where they can ask for help.
There are many reasons for there to be an international men’s day and many important topics to address. So why isn’t this day nearly as much promoted as the International Women’s Day? The international Women’s Day is well-known, we know the date and the reasons for its existence. It is one of the most important days of the year, and it’s highly mentioned in the media with trending hashtags, topics and discussions on social media platforms. We march in almost every country fighting for the same cause; to improve women’s right and fight inequality.
I think the reason men’s day is not as much promoted is because it’s not as attractive as the women’s day. Many might believe that men’s day is not “valid”, and many might also believe that if you are a man you can’t possibly have any real struggles. And then there is the old stereotype: “men don’t care and it’s certainly not manly to talk about feelings or something that bothers you”. Wrong. But that’s why this day is important – to help men understand the support and help around them and to promote good values.
I have many males in my life. I have a boyfriend, father, grandfather, two brothers, nephews, cousins, uncles and friends. It hurts me to think about the problems they could be or are facing in their daily lives, maybe problems they don’t feel like they can talk about. We absolutely need this day, and we need to promote it, to show the ones we care about that they are loved, respected and seen.