Amongst the many ‘days’ marked both nationally and internationally every year, International Women’s Day receives huge attention and rightly so.
With its celebration of women’s achievements, it is also the focal point highlighting women’s needs across the world, whether economic, social or health-based, in large cities, small villages and war-zones. However November 19th 2019 sees the 20th anniversary of International Men’s Day, having drawn together the three different IMD initiatives that had been launched in the Caribbean, Russia and Australia.
Perhaps less well known, International Men’s Day cites five key strands to its work:
- Improving gender relations between men and women
- Addressing the problems and challenges that men face
- Promoting gender equality
- Highlighting positive male role models
- Creating a safer, better world
It is great to see men getting together to talk about these issues in a forum that reaches out to each other, to their children, but to women too. And I encourage women to participate in IMD.
There are so many places where women meet to talk about the issues we face, with no men present as if it just doesn’t matter. It feels like we are having the conversation in a vacuum, a conversation that we will hear but will not be heard by the men we work side-by-side. It’s not that we are excluding them, it’s more that they have shown little interest. Sharing these types of events and ensuring an approach both sexes understand is vital. Both sides need to understand the issues the others face.
As a mother of three boys and a daughter, I welcome IMD’s support for men coming together to discuss mental health issues. The tough carapace that many men have been expected to wear by society needs to be quietly set aside to allow our husbands, fathers, sons, brothers, friends and partners to show, express and harness their full emotional range. And it will not be the work of a day or a week, but years and generations. For us all.
I hope International Men’s Day encourages men to clearly see how their role in the world thus far has impacted those they share the planet with too. Acknowledging past actions, recognizing their impact and determining a better, fairer, kinder way forward must surely be the building blocks for the future.
But it does worry me that ‘you can’t be what you can’t see’. There are so many small aspects and triggers in a male-centric world that women have to face daily about which I am not sure men are even aware.
From the uncomfortable design of cross-chest seat belts, to the well documented office heating/cooling temperature needs, to the ostracizing of menstruating girls and women in schools and societies, or not being able to walk home alone at night – these are things women face every single day. Will IMD consider these types of areas and help achieve gender equality too for their daughters, sisters and partners? Understanding each other’s perspectives and our roles within each other’s perspectives is critical.
So I look forward to seeing the forward-looking outcomes from International Men’s Day, where a rich diversity of thought can help advance men’s understanding of the partnering role they have to play in moving our troubled world forwards. In jointly caring for our children, our women, our societies and our planet. And each other.
Enjoy celebrating International Men’s Day. I will.
About the author
Erica Wolfe-Murray works across the creative, cultural and tech sector helping companies to innovate through imaginative use of their intellectual assets/IP. Referred to by Forbes.com as ‘a leading innovation and business expert’, she has recently published ‘Simple Tips, Smart Ideas: Build a Bigger, Better Business;. Full of easy-to-use advice on innovative ways to grow your business. Available from Foyles, Amazon and all other good bookshops.