As well as being a chance to celebrate women, it is a time for many men across the world to come together in online comments sections to mark a different tradition: asking why there isn’t an International Men’s Day.
Is it not sexist to have a day for women, but not a day for men, they ask? Why focus on someone who is not me, when today could instead be focused on me? Why isn’t there an International Men’s Day, they ask in their droves.
The question itself may be rhetorical. If so, then it implies an irony about International Women’s Day, an inherent sexism that undermines it as an attempt to help bring about the equality it wants to achieve.
If not, then there is a simple answer: there is an International Men’s Day, it’s been going on for quite a while, and it falls on 19 November each year – here’s everything you need to know.
When did International Men’s Day start?
International Men’s Day was inaugurated in 1992 by Thomas Oaster, director of the Missouri Centre for Men’s Studies at the University of Missouri–Kansas City.
After a rocky start, it began to build momentum in the 2000s and has been marked in Britain in various ways since 2008.
According to the UK event’s website, International Men’s Day is now marked in at least 60 countries around the world.
What are the aims of International Men’s Day?
In the UK, the stated aims of International Men’s Day are as follows:
- Making a positive difference to the wellbeing and lives of men and boys
- Promoting a positive conversation about men, manhood and masculinity
- Raising awareness and/or funds for charities supporting men and boys’ wellbeing
Additionally, the global event lists the following six broad objectives:
- To promote positive male role models
- To celebrate men’s positive contributions to society
- To focus on men’s health and wellbeing
- To highlight discrimination against men
- To improve gender relations and promote gender equality
- To create a safer, better world
Each year is also given a specific theme, with the 2023 event focused on “Zero Male Suicide”.
As well as IMD, there’s also Movember, the campaign which calls for men to grow moustaches and raise money for a series of men’s health issues including prostate cancer, testicular cancer, and mental health and suicide prevention.
Since it started in 2003, the campaign has raised hundreds of millions of pounds from more than five million participants.
What is International Women’s Day?
International Women’s Day (IWD) is “a global day celebrating the social, economic, cultural and political achievements of women”.
Its official website adds: “The day also marks a call to action for accelerating gender parity. Significant activity is witnessed worldwide as groups come together to celebrate women’s achievements or rally for women’s equality.”
The day is not associated with any one group, organisation or country.
Every year, organisers of the event announce a different theme, and the concept for 2023 International Women’s Day (IWD) is “Embrace Equity”.
The campaign website explains: “The aim of the IWD 2023 #EmbraceEquity campaign theme is to get the world talking about why equal opportunities aren’t enough.”