International Men's Day began on November 19, 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 Culture of Peace said: “This is an excellent idea and would give some gender balance”, adding that her organisation was looking forward to co-operating with International Men’s Day.
The early objectives of International Men’s Day, as proposed by Dr Teelucksingh, still hold good today. They are:
- improving gender relations between men and women;
- addressing the problems and challenges that men face;
- promoting gender equality;
- highlighting positive male role models; and
- 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”.
Diane Sears, editor of In Search of Fatherhood and USA co-ordinator said, “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 is the co-ordinator for the International Men’s Day in India. She said, “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 humour 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. 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, November 19 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, November 19 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.
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