by Justin Standfield
International Men’s Day – which is celebrated annually on 19th November in over 60 countries – aims to focus on the efforts towards the welfare of men by making a positive difference and raising awareness of issues that men face.
The chances are that you haven’t seen much about International Men’s Day in previous years, so you might be wondering what it’s all about (and perhaps whether there even needs to be a day like this in our already jam-packed calendar of events and awareness days). The aim of International Men’s Day is to celebrate the positive value that men bring to the world, to their families, to their workplaces and to their communities. It’s also about highlighting positive male role models and raising awareness of men’s wellbeing issues.
Every year in the UK, International Men’s Day is marked by more and more men, women and organisations across the country. This year, it looks like the current lockdown isn’t going to stop things, either! During November in the UK there’s a Parliamentary debate, policy launches, employer days, community events, health days, business events, debates, student events, political events, online conferences, competitions, comedy nights and charity fundraisers – the most anywhere in the world.
The three core themes for International Men’s Day in the UK are:
- Making a positive difference to the wellbeing and lives of men and boys
- Raising awareness and/or funds for charities that support men and boys’ wellbeing
- Promoting a positive conversation about men, manhood and masculinity.
I hope that the three core themes mentioned above will help to address some of the issues that affect men and boys, such as:
- The high male suicide rate
- The challenges faced by boys and men at all stages of education including attainment and re-skilling
- Men’s health (including male cancers), shorter life expectancy and workplace deaths
- The challenges faced by the most marginalised men and boys in society (for instance, homeless men, boys in care and the high rate of male deaths in custody)
- Male victims of violence, including sexual violence
- The challenges faced by men as parents, particularly new fathers and separated fathers
- Male victims and survivors of sexual abuse, rape, sexual exploitation, domestic abuse, forced marriage, honour-based crime, stalking and slavery
- The negative portrayal of men, boys and fathers in TV, film, social media and advertising.
How are you going to mark International Men’s Day?
Maybe you’re an individual sending a card to a man in your life you want to say ‘thank you’ to. You could be part of a small gang of men sharing a few virtual beers on Zoom… or perhaps you’re in a larger group of people hosting an online fundraising event this week.
Whatever your age, background or beliefs; whatever your race, ability or sexuality; whether you’re male, female or none of the above – International Men’s Day is your day to enjoy however you want to. At this point, I’d like to highlight the contribution made by some of the men and boys’ charities that you could support if you’re interested.
Finally, I’d like to mark International Men’s Day 2020 by offering you a free recording of my guided mindfulness meditation, ‘Dropping the Suitcase of Worries’. This meditation aims to help with anxiety and includes a powerful visualisation to prompt us to let go of some of the weight we carry in our minds. In the interest of being inclusive, this guided mindfulness meditation is suitable for anyone.