ANSWERING ALL YOUR QUESTIONS ABOUT INTERNATIONAL MEN'S DAY
We hope to see as many different parts of society get involved as possible. We want it to be fun and inclusive, while also addressing a couple of big issues!
What is IMD and where did it come from?
International Men’s Day is a little known day in the International Calendar that was first started in 1999 by Dr Jerome Teelucksingh. He was a history lecturer at the University of the West Indies in Trinidad Tobago. He chose November 19 to honour his father's birthday. It is now recognised in 80 countries around the globe, however, it is still relatively unknown in most of those.
Why have I not heard of it before?
Even though IMD has been around for a couple of decades it is not a fully recognised day in the International Calendar. There have been attempts in the past to bring recognition of the day to NZ, however, it has been unable to generate a groundswell of interest to bring it into public awareness. This year it feels different. There is a much greater awareness of the issues that are facing men, and a greater desire by men to embrace those issues.
What is IMD all about? What does the day represent?
The day is an annual observation to throw light at the contribution of men in bringing positive value to the world, their families and communities. It is also a day where we look at the issues that are facing men, both within themselves and within society. On this day the intention is to raise awareness of men's and societies well-being. IMD provides an opportunity for men to be seen, and it also provides an opportunity for men to show that they are working for the betterment of themselves and society.
What is happening in New Zealand on International Men’s Day?
This year on IMD we want to show that men care. That we care about supporting other men and that we care about creating a society of equity and equality between men and women.
Men Stepping Up
This year, it’s all about Men Stepping Up in two key ways:
Men Stepping Up in support of women and equity
Men Stepping Up to support each other and creating opportunities for open, honest conversation about mental health, stress and relationships
We’re calling for individuals and businesses (men, women and children) to take part in Men Stepping Up by wearing two different shoes on November 19th.
Wearing two different shoes shows our willingness to try something different, even though it may be a little uncomfortable. Encouraging men to have open and honest conversations about their wellbeing, or to tackle ways they can use their voice to support women and equity can sometimes be a little uncomfortable too – but that’s what we hope kiwis will step up and do this International Men’s Day.
We’re strong believers that getting a little uncomfortable is the best way to make the greatest things happen!
Won’t wearing 2 shoes feel uncomfortable?
Probably! But in many ways that is the point. It can be uncomfortable sometimes getting to know people better and more intimately. However, getting uncomfortable is always the best way the greatest things happen.
What has inspired International Men’s Day NZ organisers?
For a number of years now it feels like there has been a loud call for men to be more active in taking responsibility for where we are as a gender. For all the good things we do we also tend to sit in silence around supporting real change, particularly in relation to the recent, loud call by women for greater respect and equality. For many men the reason for this is because:
We don’t really know what to do
Often it doesn’t feel like we are the ones doing anything wrong therefore why should I do anything?
We are scared of getting it wrong and being vilified for it
The consequence is that men are often seen as being passive and uninterested in making a difference.
This year we want to change that by inviting men (and we hope the rest of society will join them) in showing that we care and that we are willing to step up and take responsibility for the health and wellbeing of the men and women in our life.
Why are men supporting women on International Men’s Day?
Historically, the burden has fallen on women redress social imbalances around pay inequality, equal opportunities, and especially sexual descrimination and sexually inappropriate behaviour/abuse. It is time for that to change. In most instances men are the ones who are keeping the status quo in place by either consciously or unconsciously enforcing the status quo through our inertia. As a gender the majority of us for too long have been passively sitting back and saying I'm not the one doing it or causing it therefore it's not my problem. But by not supporting women fully in their call for more equity we are perpetuating the problem. By not taking time to recognise how women feel in our presence, either in meetings, walking the streets, or at home, we are showing that we don’t really care. It is time all men stepped up and said this is my issue and I am going to take responsibility for it.
By men choosing to show that we are supporting women on International Men’s Day we are showing that we support a unified and caring society.
You have used the term equity rather than equality when talking about supporting women. Why is that?
We use equity here rather than equality because equality means each individual or group of people is given the same resources or opportunities. ... Whereas Equity recognizes that each person has different circumstances and allocates the exact resources and opportunities needed to reach an equal outcome.
What are the best ways to recognise the day?
At work teams and individuals can have conversations about the men in their lives and what they mean to them. At home spend some time together as a family and talk about what each of you mean to each other. You can also reach out to men in your life that you haven’t spoken to in a while and ask how they are doing. As a society we often forget that the simplest thing that most people need to hear is that they are cared for and valued. Being vulnerable doesn’t just mean sharing the difficult things in life, it also means sharing the intimate, kind and loving things too.
In terms of men stepping up in relation to women, the thing we can do as men is start to listen, and then start to act. How are the women around you actually feeling? And what is it that they really want and need? It is up to us as men to begin to engage and realise that a more equitable society benefits us as much as it does women.
I’m interested in using International Men’s Day to make a positive different. What kind of things can I do?
Take a look at our Men Stepping Up initiative, wear two different shoes on Friday 19th November, and encourage your colleagues and friends to do that same. Find all the information over at two shoes
Start an open and honest conversation with the people around you. Get people talking about the good examples they’ve seen about men taking action to improve their mental wellbeing, and start asking questions about the ways they can support equity between men and women. Take a look at our ‘Starting Conversations’ ideas - Starting Conversations