Celebrating International Men's Day

Celebrating International Men's Day

This year, International Men's Day highlights how to improve gender equality and recognise male role models in everyday life

Today is International Men's Day.

The day was founded in 1999 by Dr Jerome Teelucksingh from Trinidad and Tobago. Teelucksingh called for a day with five main objectives: to improve gender relations, to address the problems and challenges that men face, to promote gender equality, to highlight positive male role models, and to create a better, safer world.

Teelucksingh stressed the importance of establishing male role models. "Not just movie stars and sportsmen but everyday working-class men who are leading decent, honest lives can be male role models," he told Young Post.

The theme for this year's International Men's Day is "Working Together for Men and Boys". Warwick Marsh, coordinator in Australia, explains that the theme is meant to draw attention to the challenges faced by men and boys around the world. He points out that in the US, for example, boys' grades at school are lower than girls'. What's more, boys "are more likely than girls to be victims of violent crimes. All these things indicate that men and boys need help", he says.

Marsh encourages men to find their own way to celebrate the day. "It can be as simple as opening a door for a woman, and when she asks you why, you can say to her 'Happy International Men's Day', or you can give to a charity or a fundraiser for men's health, or have a meal or a barbecue with friends to celebrate the day. Whatever you do, have fun doing it, because laugher is the best medicine," he says.

The idea of International Men's Day is for men to get together to help one another. One prime example of that is Movember, a moustache-growing charity event held each November that raises funds and awareness for prostate cancer and other men's health issues.

The idea was born in 2003, in Melbourne, Australia, as a joke among friends. "They came up with Movember which involves men growing moustaches during the month of November to raise awareness of men's health issues, such as prostate cancer and other male cancers," says Marsh.

Since 2003, more than four million people around the world have joined the campaign, raising a total of HK$4 billion.

In Hong Kong, 2,000 people took part in the campaign in 2012 and 2,700 last year. This year the target is to get 5,000 men and women involved. All funds raised in Hong Kong will stay in the city, with the main beneficiary being the Hong Kong Cancer Fund.

More than 60 countries, including China, observe International Men's Day. In December 2003, Men's Health magazine held the first International Men's Day event in Beijing to discuss men's health and fashion. In Hong Kong in 2010, the Ngong Ping 360 cable cars let all men ride for free on November 19.

Like women, men make sacrifices every day, in the workplace, at home in their roles as husbands and fathers, and for their friends and their communities.

So, just as International Women's Day celebrates women every year on March 8, International Men's Day is a chance for people to appreciate the men in their lives and the contributions they make to society.

For more information, log on to the International Men's Day website.

This article appeared in the Young Post print edition as
Day of com'men'dation

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