You don’t have to be male to ‘toast’ International Men’s Day

Whenever women are asked why there’s an International Women’s Day and not an International Men’s Day, many respond with, "because men have the other 364 days of the year".  In fact, though, there is an International Men’s Day, and there has been for over two decades. But do we actually need an International Men’s Day and If so, why?

The purpose of IMD

International Men’s Day (IMD) takes place every year on the 19th November and is marked in over 60 countries around the world. It aims to shine a spotlight on men making a positive difference in the world and raising awareness of issues and challenges facing men today. Issues like men’s health, toxic masculinity and the prevalence of male suicide. As we previously highlighted, men in the UK are three times as likely to commit suicide as women – and a big part of that is the disconnect between what we expect of men and what they really want from life today.

Movember and IMD

IMD takes place in November, the month designated to highlight men’s mental health issues by sprouting a ‘tache and raising funds for charities and causes that support men’s battle with common health-related issues.

Why join the movement?

I continue to believe that the gender balance conversation cannot take place in a vacuum. We don’t want to create echo-chambers and support bubbles that result in unaccomplished plans and unachievable objectives because we have not involved the other half of the gender population.

So, we need to involve men in the conversation – and by doing so we also need to listen to them. We need to understand their challenges and concerns, their lack of understanding of our challenges and concerns and their confusion about how and what to do when trying to do right by women.

International Men’s Day creates an opportunity to do so. It gives men a platform to voice their anxieties and learn from each other. It also provides them with an opportunity to find a support network that helps eradicate toxic masculinity and outdated notions of what it means to be a man.

Great examples of IMD celebrations

In the past few years, I was fortunate to be invited to a handful of high-profile IMD celebrations and a few stuck in my mind. The one I particularly enjoyed was an event put on by a gender balance network of an international bank in the City. It consisted of a panel of men of various seniority – from the UK CEO to an intern – plus a few client guest speakers.

The issues discussed ranged from flexible working to sexuality and the freedom to be yourself, to supporting gender balance as a force of good for society, work and men.

The discussion surfaced parts of the gender conversation that we don’t tend to hear in women’s events, and in this way provided a forum to listen to experiences from another perspective – and isn’t that what diversity and inclusion is all about?

I was also positively struck by the audience, which was nicely gender-balanced and very enthusiastic.

So, if women are looking for support from men, isn’t International Men’s Day a fantastic platform we can develop in order to move forward together?

Active Voice: Stuck for Ideas on How to mark IMD? Here are five.

International Men’s Day (IMD) gives people the chance to celebrate the positive value men bring to the world and to raise awareness of the issues they face.

Here are five ways to help you mark the occasion.

  1. The stigma around male mental health still exists, so, if you’re male, spend some time looking after yourself and/or check in on a friend; try to look out for each other as much as possible.
  2. In the UK, men remain three times as likely to take their own lives as women. Sometimes we say we're fine when we're not. So, if your friend doesn't seem ok, don't forget to reach out to them. Or make a donation to the suicide prevention charity, CALM UK.
  3. Organise a social event for employees to bring sons into the workplace. Introduce them to male role models who can inspire these boys to have goals and ambitions.
  4. International Men’s Day lands right in the middle of the annual Movember campaign to “change the face of men’s health” – so grow a moustache.
  5. IMD is a time to celebrate the positive influence men can and do have on society as a whole, so – male or female - why not let the men who inspire you know how much you appreciate them?

You can find more information about International Men’s Day here.