International Men's Day is observed every year on November 19. It focuses on the positive impact that men have in the world, raises awareness about mental health issues that affect men, promotes gender relations and equality, and it encourages men to be good role models to the boys in their lives.
International Men's Day is commemorated in around 70 countries. In the United States, it was first observed by a group of men in Kansas City in 1994.
There have been calls from men all over the world to establish an International Men's Day since the 1960s, in the same way, that there is an International Women's Day. Originally, men campaigned for International Men's Day to be observed on February 23. In 1994, the Director of the Missouri Center for Men's Studies in Missouri, Thomas Oaster, organized an International Men's Day event in Kansas City, but it didn't garner much interest so it didn't happen again.
The day was officially established in 1999 by Jerome Teelucksingh a professor at the University of the West Indies in Trinidad and Tobago. Teelucksingh wanted a day separate from father's day, to celebrate men who are not fathers as well as young and teenage boys. International Men's Day for Teelucksingh was a day to highlight the positive impact that strong male role models have in the world, which is why he chose November 19 to mark this day - the birthday of his father.
In North America, International Men's Day began growing in popularity in 2008. It officially spread to Canada in 2009, with celebrations, events, and an official course for men entitled 'Manology: Exploring 21st Century Masculinity.'
Since then, the day has evolved to highlight issues that affect men, such as mental health problems and problems of identity that come from issues of toxic masculinity and what is expected from men. This day aims to fight gender stereotypes and encourage men to be who they want to be. Men have a huge influence on society and their communities, and thus they should lead by example and help to make the world a place that is safe for everyone.
The Six Pillars of International Men's Day
According to the IMD website, International Men's Day is based on six objectives that should always be kept in mind when celebrating this holiday.
- To promote positive male role models.
- To celebrate men’s positive contributions to society.
- To focus on men’s health and wellbeing.
- To highlight discrimination against men.
- To improve gender relations and promote gender equality
- To create a safer, better world.
How to celebrate International Men's Day
Every year there is a different theme to celebrate International Men's Day, and events and activities are based around this theme. Themes have ranged from "Giving Boys The Best Possible Start In Life" in 2011, to"Celebrating Men And Boys In All Their Diversity" 2017, among others.
The best way to celebrate International Men's Day, if you're a man, is to actively be a positive role model to all the boys and teenagers in your life, and guide them to be their best selves. If there are no children in your family, volunteer at an organization that helps those who have a troubled childhood, such as the Big Brothers Big Sisters of America.
Don't forget to thank your own male role models for all the positive impact that they have had in your life.