Calls for an International Men's Day have been going on since at least the 1960's when it was reported that "Many men have been agitating privately to make February 23 International Men's Day, the equivalent of March 8, which is International Women's day" (New York Times, Feb 24 1969). Since this time there have been persistent international calls for the creation of an IMD, calls in the form of rhetorical questions about gender equality, eg. "Why do women have an international celebration and not men?" and more commonly in the form of statements like "Men's contributions and concerns deserve a day of recognition in their own right" i.e. not merely by analogy with International Women's Day. Proposed objectives of an International Men's Day include a focus on men's and boy's health, improving gender relations, promoting gender equality, and highlighting positive male role models. It is also suggested as an occasion whereby men may highlight discrimination against them and celebrate their positive achievements and contributions to communities, places of work, friendships, families, marriages, and child care.
In more recent decades there have been a number of attempts at establishing an IMD in individual countries (eg. Canada, France, USA, Colombia, Russia, Canada, China) with the hope that these gestures would be witnessed abroad by others who might follow suit and join in to celebrate their own IMD in synchrony with the founders. Whilst small celebrations of this nature were apparently observed by individuals in several countries they suffered a lack of publicity necessary to reach interested parties abroad, and therefore the initiatives were not continued. In the early 1990s, for instance, organizations in the United States, Europe, and Australia held small events in February at the invitation of Professor Thomas Oaster who directed the Missouri Center for Men's Studies at the University of Missouri, Kansas City. Oaster successfully promoted the event in 1994, but his following attempt in 1995 was poorly attended and he ceased plans to continue the event in subsequent years. Whilst the Australians also ceased to observe the event again until November 19, 2003, only the Maltese Association for Men's Rights continued to observe the event each year in February. As the single remaining country still observing the earlier February celebration, the Maltese AMR Committee voted in 2009 to shift the date of their observation to November 19 in line with several countries that had newly come to celebrate on the November date which was inaugurated in Trinidad and Tobago by Dr. Jerome Teelucksingh in 1999. The new event received overwhelming support in the Caribbean and due to the persistent networking and invitations sent to individuals in other nations International Men's Day has taken root on the international scene. The Caribbean initiative is now independently celebrated in countries as diverse as Singapore, Australia, India, United Kingdom, United States, South Africa, Haiti, Jamaica, Hungary, Malta, Ghana, Moldova, and Canada and interest in the event is increasing rapidly.
Since 1999 the methods of commemorating International Men's Day have included public seminars, classroom activities at schools, radio and television programs, Church observances, peaceful gatherings and marches, awards ceremonies, and art displays. The manner of observing this annual day is optional; any organizations are welcome to host their own events and any appropriate forums can be used. Early pioneers of IMD reminded that the day is not intended to compete against International Woman's Day, but is for the purpose of highlighting men's experiences. Each year secondary themes are suggested, such as peace in 2002, men's health in 2003, healing and forgiveness in 2007, or positive male role models in 2009. In 2010 the theme for International Men's Day is "Our children our future"
OBJECTIVES OF INTERNATIONAL MEN'S DAY
1. To promote positive male role models; not just movie stars and sports men but everyday, working class men who are living decent, honest lives.
2. To celebrate men's positive contributions to society, community, family, marriage, child care, and to the environment.
3. To focus on men's health and well being; social, emotional, physical and spiritual.
4. To highlight discrimination against men; in areas of social services, social attitudes and expectations, and law
5. To improve gender relations and promote gender equality
6. To create a safer, better world; where people can be safe and grow to reach their full potential..
- Dr. Jerome Teelucksingh
For further information about observations in individual countries see the International menu above.