Life is an adventure. Coordinating International Men’s Day (IMD) for the world is a super adventure. For starters, it is a relatively new concept on the world stage of ideas, but as Victor Hugo once said, “Nothing is more powerful than an idea whose time is come.”
International Men’s Day has a big future. Ultimately, it will peak, but not for another ten years or more. With noble ideas, it is crucial who carries them and why. International Men’s Day was conceived in a particular man’s heart to honour his father.
How International Men’s Day Began
Dr Jerome Teelucksingh’s dad was an independent Senator in the parliament of Trinidad’s Upper House. His father was also a Presbyterian minister and a pillar of the community. Dr Teelucksingh chose the date of International Men’s Day because it lined up with his dad’s birthday.
Interestingly, the 19th of November was also the date of the historic 1989 World Cup qualifying game which Trinidad-Tobago lost to the United States. The whole country united behind their national team: men and women, Muslim and Christian, all ethnic minorities – everyone supported the national team in an unprecedented fashion.
Jerome’s vision for IMD has never been just about men. His vision has always been about a better world for everyone.
The theme for IMD in 2002 was Peace. In 2003, it was Healing and Forgiveness. In both cases, it was Jerome who chose the theme. The theme for 2008 was Honour and Sacrifice; in 2009, it was Positive Male Role Models, and in 2010, the theme was Our Children – Our Future.
From the very start, IMD has been more about humanity than about men – and that has been a good thing. For the last decade, International Men’s Day themes have featured men and boys, or both.
Planning This Year’s Event
Last year, in consultation with Dr Jerome Teelucksingh, other IMD global organisers and I decided on the theme for this year: Better Relations between Men and Women. Although I knew that some of the men’s rights advocates would be unhappy with this theme, I felt it was necessary as Jerome’s original vision included ‘better gender relations’.
Part of the strategy for this year’s theme was to approach the United Nations to ask that IMD be recognised by the global body. This is still a real possibility. We encourage citizens of each nation to write to their Prime Minister or President to ask that they make an application to the United Nations, on behalf of their respective nation, to see International Men’s Day set aside as a special day of the year, just like International Women’s Day. Please contact your local Federal Member of Parliament with this request.
At the time, I thought this to be a good theme but had not realised one significant benefit of a theme that encourages women as well. The good news this year is that IMD is getting much more support from women than ever before.
The feminist movement struggled in the 1800s, but things changed when men started to support women in their endeavours to get the vote and be treated as equals. In England, men such as John Stuart Mills and Sir Henry Maine supported the brave suffragettes. In the United States, Parker Pillsbury helped draft the constitution of the feminist Equal Rights Association in 1865. Men standing up for women made all the difference.
Today, thank God, our theme Better Relations between Men and Women has unwittingly done the same for the men of this world.
The Role of Women in International Men’s Day
Jerome and I conducted the first IMD global consultation on Zoom in preparation for the event earlier this week. There was representation from 11 countries at this first event, while at the second consultation, six countries were represented. I’m glad to say a good number in both cases were from Australia.
I am even happier that we had women who were making history in their own nations for International Men’s Day in both consultations. It was truly inspiring.
In the first consultation, a woman joined us from an island in the Caribbean called Aruba. I had never heard of this island nation before, and fortunately Shamilla Williams-Haynes was not insulted by my ignorance!
Shamilla said, “I am starting off small with a local celebration this International Men’s Day.” We all nodded pleasantly. Then she said, “I have spoken to our female Prime Minister, who is supportive, and our Deputy Prime Minister will be a guest speaker at our celebration.”
Shamilla sure had our attention! It is encouraging that the women of the world are speaking up and supporting men. As Victor Hugo said, “Nothing is more powerful than an idea whose time has come.”
International Men’s Day is this Friday, the 19th of November, 2021.
Make history this year. Please post it on your social media and celebrate the day in some way.
Write to the Prime Minister and ask him to request that the United Nations recognise International Men’s Day, just as they have with International Women’s Day. It is an idea whose time has come. Besides, our children need to know that both men and women are to be celebrated.
Yours for our children,
P.S. We are holding two after-the-event consultations for International Men’s Day on Wednesday the 1st of December at 9am and 10pm on Zoom number 6038035400. Mark it in your diaries now!
Date: Wednesday 1st December
Time: 9am & 10pm (AEDT – NSW daylight savings time)
ZOOM link: https://us02web.zoom.us/j/6038035400
ZOOM number: 6038035400 (no password required)