International Men’s Day (IMD) is an annual international event celebrated on 19 November, Inaugurated in 1999.
Speaking on behalf of UNESCO, Director of Women and Culture of Peace Ingeborg Breines said of IMD, “This is an excellent idea and would give some gender balance.” She added that UNESCO was looking forward to cooperating with the organizers.
The objectives of celebrating an International Men’s Day include focusing on men’s and boys’ health, improving gender relations, promoting gender equality, and highlighting positive male role models.
It is an occasion to highlight discrimination against men and boys and to celebrate their achievements and contributions, in particular for their contributions to community, family, marriage, and child care. The broader and ultimate aim of the event is to promote basic humanitarian values.
Pakistani Human Rights organization ‘Rights and Rights’ inaugurated International Men’s Day in Muzaffargarh in 2010. Rights and Rights Founder Yousaf Jamal reported that around 100 people attended, with many lawyers, educationists, social activists and representatives of Women’s organizations attending the seminar. Special tributes were paid to prominent male role models.
Jamal observed that in Pakistan over the last few years a lot of feminist organizations paint the whole male gender as cruel, and likewise in some prevailing laws there are many discriminatory clauses against men, particularly in Family Law and Harassment in the Work Place Act. Jamal paid reference to the steady decline of male participation at Higher Education and University level, citing student numbers in Karachi University as 90% female, in Punjab University 70% female, and in BZ University 52% female. Mr. Jamal spoke of the importance of gender cooperation in tackling various problems faced by males and females and cautioned that we should avoid the “Each gender for itself” approach and instead promote better gender relationships. He proposed that all people should celebrate both Men’s Day and Women’s Day.
According to its creators, International Men’s Day is a time to promote positive aspects of male identity based on the premise that ‘males of all ages respond more energetically to positive role models than they do to negative gender stereotyping’.
During past years the method of commemorating International Men’s Day included public seminars, classroom activities at schools, radio and television programs, peaceful displays and marches, debates, panel discussions, award ceremonies, and art displays.
The manner of observing this annual day is optional, and any appropriate forums can be used. Early pioneers of IMD reminded that the day is not intended to compete against International Women’s Day, but is for the purpose of highlighting men’s experiences.
In 2009 the following broad objectives were ratified as a basis for all International Men’s Day observations, and are applied equally to men and boys irrespective of their age, ability, social background, ethnicity, sexual orientation, gender identity, religious belief and relationship status:
· To promote positive male role models; not just movie stars and sportsmen but every day, working class men who are living decent, honest lives.
· To celebrate men’s positive contributions to society, community, family, marriage, child care, and to the environment.
· To focus on men’s health and wellbeing; social, emotional, physical and spiritual.
· To highlight discrimination against men; in areas of social services, social attitudes and expectations, and law.
· To improve gender relations and promote gender equality.
· To create a safer, better world; where people can live free from harm and grow to reach their full potential.
2013 “Keeping Men and Boys safe”
The theme for 2013 as nominated by the IMD Coordination Committee is, “Keeping Men and Boys safe”. The nominated target areas are,
1. Keeping men and boys Safe by tackling male suicide.
2. Keeping boys safe so they can become tomorrow’s role models.
3. Tackling our tolerance of violence against men and boys.
4. Boosting men’s life expectancy by keeping men and boys safe from avoidable illness and death.
5. Keeping men and boys safe by promoting fathers and male role models.