International Men's Day
Jerome Teelucksingh in 1999
Professor Thomas Oaster
International Men's Day is for celebrating men and the contributions they make to society. Talk of creating such a day dates back to the 1960s, but nothing initially came of it. In the early 1990s, groups in individual countries began working to establish an International Men's Day, hoping it would spread to other countries. Professor Thomas Oaster, director of the Missouri Center for Men's Studies at the University of Missouri, Kansas City, started an International Men's Day celebration in 1992, but it was discontinued after 1995. In 1999, the day began being held on its current date. First celebrated in Trinidad and Tobago, it was started by Dr. Jerome Teelucksingh, who chose the date in part because it was his father's birthday. The holiday gained great support in the Caribbean and spread to be celebrated internationally. Today it is held in over 70 countries.
There are "six pillars" as to why the holiday is celebrated:
- To highlight the importance of male role models—not just popular figures, but everyday working-class men.
- To celebrate the positive roles of men in communities, families, relationships, and childcare.
- To focus on the health of men and boys.
- To highlight discrimination faced by men, such as social attitudes and expectations.
- To improve gender relations across the world, and to promote gender equality.
- To create a safer, better world where people can reach their full potential.
There also are secondary themes each year, which celebrants may focus on, but do not have to. For example, men's health was the theme of 2002, healing and forgiveness was the theme of 2003, and positive male role models was the theme of 2018.
The day has been celebrated in many different ways, and there is no set way it needs to be done; organizations can hold events or activities in any way they please. In the past, the day has been celebrated with conferences, seminars, festivals, fundraisers, school and church events, radio and television programs, and marches.
International Men's Day takes place during Movember, and the day before Universal Children's Day. International Women's Day is celebrated on March 8, but International Men's Day is not meant to compete or conflict with it. Instead, today's holiday is to highlight men's experiences.
How to Observe International Men's Day
The day should be spent celebrating men and the contributions they make to society. Reflect on the positive male role models you have in your life, perhaps reaching out to them and wishing them a happy International Men's Day. Use the day to work to improve gender relations between men and women, and to become aware of health issues that men face. Check around your community for events and activities taking place for the day.