Why we should be celebrating International Men’s Day

19th November is International Men’s Day (IMD), an event celebrated globally in approximately 80 countries each year.

There is a school of thought that says: why do men need a dedicated day? While there is no doubt that we are currently dealing with a host of wider problems linked to inequality in society, there are clear statistics that show why International Men’s Day still has an important role to play for both men and for the advancement of wider society.

Here we will explore what International Men’s Day is, the key insights that explain why this day is worthy of celebrating, and what employers can do to support around male health and wellbeing as part of International Men’s Day.

What is International Men’s Day?

Celebrated on the 19th November 2022 in the UK, IMD falls within the same month as ‘Movember’: the month we focus on raising  awareness around men’s health issues, including prostate cancer, testicular cancer, mental health and suicide rates. IMD itself exists to highlight men’s experiences, the positive value men bring to the world, and to raise awareness for male wellbeing.

The objectives of International Men’s Day are set out as 6 Pillars:

  • To promote positive male role models; not just film stars and sports men but every day men who are living decent, honest lives
  • To celebrate men’s positive contributions to society, community, family, marriage, child care, and to the environment
  • To focus on men’s health and wellbeing; social, emotional, physical and spiritual
  • To highlight discrimination against men; in areas of social services, social attitudes and expectations, and law
  • To improve gender relations and promote gender equality
  • To create a safer, better world; where people can be safe and grow to reach their full potential

The benefits of International Men’s Day

International Men’s Day aims to celebrate the positive value men bring to the world, their families and communities. Acknowledging that despite very real wider societal imbalances remaining, there are good male examples doing good things in this world. IMD also aims to celebrate the fact that men are diverse – to break gender stereotypes around what it means to be a ‘man’, and show that while there is no single correct form of masculinity there are forms that adopt toxic behaviours which are not conducive to progressing equality, equity and inclusivity 

Each supporting country looks to set their own ‘IMD’ theme for the year. For example, in 2022 the theme for IMD in Australia is ‘Celebrating Mateship’, while the UK themes for the Day which are used every year to help maximise participation are:

  • 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 charities supporting men and boys’ wellbeing

The date is also an opportunity to celebrate positive male role models. IMD promotes and champions diverse, positive male role models to help drive a more unified and fair society. Men are encouraged to teach the boys in their lives the values, character and responsibilities of being a man. Mahatma Gandhi said, “We must become the change we seek.”  It is only when we all, both men and women, lead by example that we will create a fair and safe society which allows everyone the opportunity to prosper.

IMD highlights the benefits of celebrating positive, diverse male role models in society and how they can inspire younger generations. Positive male role models help to develop a culture where bias is called out, where peer groups can start to self-manage and eradicate toxic behaviour, because their role models are showing them a different way to behave; a way where its simply not cool anymore to bully or belittle others. 

Very importantly, IMD also seeks to raise awareness of men’s well-being. When questioning why IMD exists as a date in the calendar, it is vital to recognise the real problems that currently exist among the male population. For example, statistics show that:

– In general, men have a shorter life expectancy. In England, men have an average life expectancy of 79.9 years compared to 83.6 year for women
– prisons are occupied by approx 96% males

– 85% of rough sleepers are men
– suicide rates are proportionally much higher in men (suicide is the most common cause of death for men under 50 years of age, with men making up 3 in every 4 suicides in the UK).

– males are performing much worse academically (in 2022, 76.7% of female students achieved a ‘pass’ level grade at GCSE level in the UK compared to 69.8% of male students).
IMD is about acknowledging that problems exist, and empowering people to speak up, share problems, and not suffer in silence. One of the key aims of this date is to promote conversation and problem sharing so that those in need of help no longer need to feel like they are isolated and expected to just get on with it for fear of embarrassment and ridicule.

What employers can do to support male health and wellbeing

Poor health is a significant risk to employers – it leads to lower productivity, absenteeism, and loss of valuable talent. In order to counteract this, employers need to gain a deeper understanding of the different issues that impact men in order to best support them.

Here are some of the ways that employers can support male health and wellbeing: 

  1. Offer a comprehensive health and wellbeing programme which includes emotional wellbeing, physical wellbeing, financial wellbeing, social wellbeing, and career wellbeing.
  2. Create a positive workplace culture where employees feel that they can open up about any issues they may face, including with their mental health.
  3. Raise awareness about mental health issues to normalise the topic and tackle any stigma. 
  4. Raise awareness of specific health conditions such as cancer, heart disease, high cholesterol, high blood pressure, and diabetes – help employees to understand the concept of the “silent killers”, the importance of regular check-ups, and seeking medical advice for any niggles early on. In a practical sense, make it easy for employees to take time off for appointments and check-ups when necessary, and encourage employees to take time to go for screening. 
  5. Offer a health assessment programme that enables employees to have a regular health check up – guiding them on how to prevent health issues from developing, and making it easy for employees to receive early diagnosis of any existing issues (especially the “silent killers”).
  6. Use the workplace as an opportunity to create positive social wellbeing, reducing feelings of isolation and loneliness, and creating stronger support networks.
  7. Promote a Diverse, Equitable and Inclusive workforce that breaks down barriers between different groups, and celebrates how our differences can make us stronger.
  8. Ensure you have the right mix of benefits, services and support available for employees, and make these easy to access. Examples include private GP services, an Employee Assistance Programme and Private Medical Insurance, and internally an improved mentorship programme where positive examples are more transparently celebrated, reinforced and shared.
  9. Provide improved access to suicide prevention support and mental first aid.  

International Men’s Day is about acknowledging the problems that exist, and that by reinforcing and celebrating positive role models in society, which are not constrained by stereotypes, this can only help to move things forward in a positive direction. IMD plays an important role in highlighting the problems faced by men, whilst at the same time championing good, diverse, male role models who can speak up, share problems, support others, and call out bias in their own peer groups and networks, helping to contribute to a fairer society for us all.

If you’re ready to take your business to the next level, get in touch with Accelerate today for a friendly chat.