International Men's Day began on 19th November, 1999, in Trinidad and Tobago through the efforts of Dr Jerome Teelucksingh and was supported by the United Nations. The event received wide support from men's groups in USA, Europe, Africa, Asia, and the Caribbean. 

Speaking on behalf of UNESCO, Ms Ingeborg Breines, director of Women and a Culture of Peace, said: “This is an excellent idea and would give some gender balance”, adding that her organisation was looking forward to cooperating with International Men's Day. 

The early objectives of International Men's Day, as proposed by Dr Teelucksingh, still hold good today. They are:
1. Improving gender relations between men and women.
2. Addressing the problems and challenges that men face.
3. Promoting gender equality.
4. Highlighting positive male role models.
5. Creating a safer, better world.

Of these, Dr Teelucksingh strongly emphasised the importance of positive male role models, “not just movie stars and sports men, but everyday, working class men who are living decent, honest lives.”

Men praying

MEN UNITED: Men gathering together for prayer. PICTURE: © James Pauls (www.istockphoto.com)

 

"Individuals have asked what they can do for International Men's Day. Here are some suggestions: Text a message to your friends and wish them a happy International Men's Day. Maybe you can have a meal or drink with a few friends."

Diane Sears, editor of In Search of Fatherhood and US coordinator says, “The world needs men. Men are the key architect of our bridge to the future. And our children are our future - our bridge to the future. Yes, men are necessary. Every day in their usual unassuming way, men offer each of us valuable life lessons”. With Diane's words of encouragement we can all get out of our comfort zones and celebrate 'International Men's Day'. 

Uma Challa, coordinator for the International Men's Day, India, adds: “Men render many services that make the society comfortable for everyone. Men make many contributions to science, technology and the health of all. Men perform the most dangerous and difficult jobs in the world. Men take risks and die to save other lives during calamities and war. Men bring humor into our lives and make us laugh.”

Individuals have asked what they can do for International Men's Day. Here are some suggestions: Text a message to your friends and wish them a happy International Men's Day. Maybe you can have a meal or drink with a few friends. 

Chivalrous acts such as opening the door for a woman can give you an opportunity to promote International Men's Day. When you open the door, just smile and say, 'Proud to be Male. Happy International Men's Day!' Another practical idea is to fundraise for a charity that supports men or men's health. Maybe you could write an email to your local newspaper, give some awards or letters of appreciation to outstanding men in your community. Whatever you do, have fun when you do it. When you get together with your friends make sure you laugh and enjoy your time with them. Robert Louis Stevenson said, “So long as we are loved by others I should say we are almost indispensable; and no man is useless while he has a friend.”

It is amazing what happens when men get together. Here in Australia a few friends got together over a beer in the city of Melbourne and started what is known as 'Movember'. Movember has raised millions of dollars for men's health and is now celebrated around the world. Find your own reasons and methods of celebrating International Men's Day. 

Each country can find its own unique reasons to celebrate International Men's Day. In the United States of America, 19th November is the date that Abraham Lincoln gave his famous Gettysburg address in 1863, one of the most quoted speeches in history. On that day Abraham Lincoln said, “It is rather for us to be here dedicated to the task remaining before us...that this nation, under God, shall have a new birth of freedom and that government: of the people by the people, for the people shall not perish from the earth.”

In Australia, 19th November is also an important day. It was on that day in 1941 that 645 men paid the ultimate sacrifice when the HMAS Sydney was sunk during a naval gun battle in World War II. Lest we forget!

Let us be thankful for the men who gave their lives that we might be free and let us appreciate those men who still sacrifice today to make this world a better place.

Warwick Marsh is the coordinator of the global website for International Men’s Day.

www.internationalmensday.com