As usual, the International Men’s Day came up last weekend and as usual, it was marked by men as quietly as they always do. It was almost like the day never existed, as against the fanfare that greets the International Women’s Day or the multiple Mothers Day celebrations.
In fact, apart from messages from corporate organisations like banks and other financial institutions as well as telecommunications companies, noise and greetings to mark the day were mostly sent by women in the media and other social platforms to appreciate the men in their lives. The corporate organisations that send messages to their male customers on the day do so as part of their relationship management. Those that do not do so, know they dare not forget when it is International Women’s Day on 8th March!
There are a few cases though where men also send such messages to each other to wish themselves well, and give hope for better times ahead.
Each year, International Men’s Day is celebrated on November 19. It is an international event that is celebrated in more than 70 countries worldwide.
The theme for 2022 is, “Helping Men and Boys”.
The aim of International Men’s Day is to celebrate positive male role models, raise awareness of men’s issues which are often overlooked and mark the achievement by boys and men in the family, society, nation and community.
Topics dwelling on mental health, toxic masculinity, violence and the prevalence of male suicide have featured in these annual celebrations.
Celebration of men on 19th November only started in 1992. Although International Men’s and Women’s Day are considered to be ‘gender focused’ events, they are not ideological mirror images. The International Women’s Day is celebrated on March 8 every year, with similar focus on issues affecting women.
It is proper to state that the International Men’s Day and International Women’s Day are different from celebrations of Father’s Day and Mother’s Day. Father’s Day or Mothers’ Day may be important as they provide a way to be thankful for fathers and mothers. But Men’s and Women’s Days are both about all men and women, including little boys or little girls, adult men and women as well as older men and women. It is a celebration of all genders and age groups.
As usual, the theme for this year was chosen to help achieve the objectives of the Six Pillars of International Men’s Day which are:
- To focus on men’s and boys’ mental and physical health
- Enhancing Gender Relations
- Promoting Gender Equality and well-being
- Focusing on discrimination against men
- Promoting positive men role models
- Helping in creating a safer and better world
These pillars are aimed at making a positive difference to the well-being and lives of men and boys, raising awareness and/or funds for charities supporting men and boys’ well-being and promoting a positive conversation about men, manhood and masculinity.
The International Men’s Day is an opportunity for people of goodwill everywhere to appreciate and celebrate the men in their lives and the contribution they make to society for the greater good of all. This has, in the past, served to promote positive aspects of male identity based on the premise that men respond more constructively to positive role models than to negative gender stereotyping. The day is not intended to compete with International Women’s Day, but to highlight the importance of men’s physical and mental health and positive masculinity.
Regular features and activities for International Men’s Day include donating to men’s charities that are dedicated to helping men live better lives; learning more about lesser known influential men like those whose life and work is still making an impact on the world today; checking on the men in your life, like male family members and friends, to see how they are doing; celebrating the men around you and letting them know you care; and generally helping reduce the pressures in the lives of men by sharing their feelings.
These actions are expected of both men and women, boys and girls, on a day like this, as they focus on the men in their lives and help achieve the objectives of celebrating an International Men’s Day as set out in ‘The Six Pillars of International Men’s Day’ listed earlier.
The annual themes are usually designed to help more people consider what action all can take to “Make A Difference” and “give men and boys better life chances” by addressing relevant issues.
The themes for the last few years have included:
- 2011: “Giving Boys The Best Possible Start In Life”
- 2012: “Helping Men and Boys Live longer, Happier and Healthier Lives”
- 2013: “Keeping Men and Boys safe”
- 2014: “Working Together For Men and Boys”
- 2015: “Working To Expand Reproductive Options for Men”
- 2016: “Stop Male Suicide”
- 2017: “Celebrating Men And Boys In All Their Diversity”
- 2018: “Positive Male Role Models”
- 2019: “Making a Difference for Men and Boys”
- 2020: “Better health for men and boys”
- 2021: “Better relations between men and women”
It has always been tough to determine what was achieved after each International Men’s Day, in spite of the beautifully crafted themes. May be the next one. May be!
Epa Ogie Eboigbe, veteran journalist, broadcaster and public affairs specialist writes on, and analyses current and historical issues with a ‘wise pen’.