I just found out that November 19 is “celebrated” around the world, including Pakistan, as the International Men’s Day. Imagine my surprise, considering how men in Pakistan definitely don’t need a day to celebrate their manhood. But a little digging led to actual understanding, and realization, how important this day really is.
So here’s everything you need to know about this day that marks the “celebration” of being a man:
Here’s how the ‘International Men’s Day’ came to be:
There have been many calls from men, historically for a celebration of an ‘International Men’s Day’ as a response to March 8, which is celebrated as the ‘International Women’s Day’.
Obviously, with how patriarchy has been more harmful than helpful, it has been a little tough to get this day going, with celebrations being conducted over the years but always ending up without a consistent support.
The modern ‘International Men’s Day’ finds its roots in Trinidad and Tobago, where citizens celebrated a day for men in 1999, for the first time.
The idea came from one Jerome Teelucksingh of The University of the West Indies. He said that he wanted a day for ALL men and explained, “I realized there was no day for men… some have said that there is Father’s Day, but what about young boys, teenagers and men who are not fathers?”
The idea spread to other parts of the world, from Jamaica, Australia and India to now, where about 70 countries around the world “celebrate” this day in order recognize what being a man means in their societies.
In Pakistan, the human right’s organization ‘Rights and Rights’ introduced the International Men’s Day in Muzaffargarh in 2010.
According to the founder of this organization, Yousaf Jamal, the day was celebrated in order to bring attention to the declining number of men in higher education, and academic activities in general, in Pakistan.
Why is it important to “celebrate” an International Men’s Day?
The idea of the ‘macho’ man is doing more harm to men than good.
The traditional image of masculinity has taught men to be ‘macho’, never to cry or show your vulnerability because then you’re not “man enough”. Research has shown how this behavior has lead to aggravation in health issues for men.
Therefore, it is important that men start embracing their problems and accepting that life isn’t perfect. The world’s perception over gender roles is changing and the international ‘ideals’ over masculinity are also becoming more diverse. It is time, more men start accepting this and opening up to problems that are actually hindering their growth as people.
17.6% more men are illiterate than women, as per UNICEF surveys
In surveys carried out over a period ranging from 2008 to 2012 male illiteracy, between the ages of 15-24 years, in Pakistan has been 79.1% while the female illiteracy rate for the same age group, during the same period, has been 61.5%.
These figures are alarming because with the cultural conception that men are the breadwinners in Pakistan, these higher illiteracy rates don’t bode well for these men when they go out looking for jobs in an economy that is increasingly becoming competitive.
According to WHO, more men commit suicide all around the world than women
In a survey of 100 countries, the World Health Organization found that other than China and São Tomé and Príncipe, virtually everywhere else in the world more men commit suicide than women. The global suicide rates have only increased by 60% over the past 45 years.
It is really important than men take this day as a chance to learn about themselves, open up to those they love and share their deepest, darkest fears so their problems can actually be dealt with effectively.
Boys are consistently under-performing in schools as compared to girls
While it is extremely commendable that after years of institutional marginalization girls have finally been able to take on men in so many arenas (although, a lot more still needs to be done), boys around the world have consistently performed way below what levels girls have been doing, academically. You just need to take a look at the board and entrance exams every year, in Pakistan to see this trend.
This academic underachievement is concerning because no one should be neglected. Dr. Michael Thompson, an American school psychologist thinks it is the society’s fault for undervaluing intellectual achievement for boys, “nobody wants to admit what’s happening, which is, ‘You girls work very hard, but sorry, ladies, when you get out there, we’re not going to pay you equally. And you boys, it’s OK. You can loaf through school. You’ll get good jobs afterwards'”, he says.
Men die earlier than women, all over the world.
According to findings published by the WHO in 2016, the Life expectancy for children born in 2015 is 73.8 years for females and 69.1 years for males. According to research University of California, Los Angeles and University of Southern California scientists the main reasons for this are heart rate and lifestyle choices, although over a longer period both men and women are prone to same problems, men are more effected for reasons they haven’t been able to determine as of yet.
In order to learn health risks that men have a general attitude to be ignorant of, there is a need for a day specific to them so they are reminded every year, to learn and to take care of their health.
The International Men’s Day happens around the same time Movember is going on and that helps raise awareness to health risks men face.
Movember has been celebrated every year to raise awareness for men’s health issues around the world. The incidence of International Men’s Day allows for open discussion and awareness campaigns that are of greater need with each passing day.
Also, it doesn’t hurt having a day ‘specified’ to discussing issues and challenges around men in light of a changing society.
With the world becoming diverse and ever more torn apart over labels, groups, identities and whatnot, it is good that men have a day specifically to remind them they aren’t necessarily as amazing as they have always felt.
And the great thing about the ‘International Men’s Day’ is that it is an inclusive day, where men of all shapes, sizes, ages, religious backgrounds, sexual orientations and identities can come together and actually share in experiences that make them modern men.
This is what men on the internet have to say about this day
— ric 🏳️🌈 (@ricardo_jpl) November 19, 2016
Today is a good day to raise awareness of the issues that are often ignored, like suicide, due to our "privilege" #InternationalMensDay
— Ian Bond (@IanBondLaw) November 19, 2016
Today is not for celebrating masculinity, it's for acknowledging the damage that it does. Don't give in to it. #InternationalMensDay
— Dan Chester (@danshrimpsufc) November 19, 2016
— Hussain (@huinsane) November 19, 2016
Guys, happy International Men’s Day!
Cover image via: mashable.com