05 April, 2010


My early efforts at observing and promoting International Men’s Day were not successful. There was a disappointing public response as the first observances attracted only 5 to 10 persons. And, most of the times, members of my family comprised half the audience! The government and private businesses in my country were not interested in International Men’s Day. So, I had to use personal expenses to print invitations, place newspaper advertisements, rent venues and purchase refreshments. These early efforts seemed as failures and I wanted to stop the observances and forget the entire concept of International Men’s Day or IMD. Additionally, some persons felt a day for men was useless and some wondered if there was an ulterior motive to this Day. International Men’s Day has continued only because of the encouragement and support given by a global network of persons who also realized the need of having a Day which could create a better world.

During the past decade, persons abroad have been asking me: "What is the best manner to observe IMD? What is the secret to effectively promote IMD?" I’m probably still not the best person to give advice but I’m willing to share some thoughts that will prove helpful.

The observance of International Men’s Day can take many different forms. Options include conferences, workshops, art, essay or poetry competitions, parades, car or bicycle rallies, public lectures or walks. Where is the best venue to attract persons? It could be anywhere and depends on your budget and target group. An observance for students could be appropriately held in a school hall. A lunch-time seminar in the office would educate co-workers. In the past, IMD observances have been held in parks, under shady trees on university campuses, in living rooms, libraries, garages, town halls and hotels. Getting the message to others is more important than the venue!

The internet is one of the most effective methods of promoting awareness of IMD. Use of Facebook, Twitter, Hi5, blogs, emails and websites have been successful. The internet has also been used to bridge the language barrier. Press releases in the local newspaper, interviews on radio stations and television appearance will certainly help educate others on the benefits of IMD observances. Get the local school or college involved.

Who should be invited to an observance of IMD? Anyone who is interested in creating positive and lasting change should be invited. Men, women, teenagers and children will benefit from IMD. The size of the audience is not important. The more crucial issue at your IMD observance is that there is constructive dialogue and that change has occurred which would improve society. Use the opportunity to invite the mayor, governor, councilors and government officials who would be better able to promote IMD at a higher level. Probably inviting one of these officials, who you believe is a role model, can be a guest speaker at an observance of IMD.

Some have questioned the title of ‘coordinator’ and wondered if it is an appropriate word. This is a term that has been used to identify persons who are promoting IMD in their countries across the world. These persons are volunteers who are eager to promote the 6 Objectives of IMD. If you are not interested in using this title but eager to spread the Objectives of IMD and host observances, then you are free to refer to yourself as a ‘promoter’, ‘organizer’ or ‘supporter’. Or you might decide not to use any title! This is a minor issue that should not lead to arguments. Similarly, every year there is a designated theme for IMD but you can choose a theme that might be more relevant or applicable to your community or country. Or you might desire to use a theme for more than one year. This is also acceptable.

There are a few major websites that document and promote IMD. If you believe that creating a website in your language or dialect would be more effective, then feel free to use that medium. There is a logo used by most persons celebrating IMD. However, if you feel that a certain logo would attract more people from your city, village or country. For instance, a coordinator from an indigenous tribe might want to use symbols from his or her culture to better highlight the importance of IMD to other members of the tribe. One year, a creative child or teenager might want to design an International Men’s Day logo for the classroom. These are all possibilities which demonstrate the flexibility of this aspect of the Men’s movement.

Being a coordinator should not be a burdensome job or one that demands your attention for the entire year. Create a timeline which will show when, where and how you will begin planning the observance. The more coordinators in a country would definitely mean less planning for you. Contact coordinators from other countries and share ideas and seek advice. Where should you recruit these persons to serve as coordinators? Interested persons who attend the annual observance could be invited to assist as coordinators. Maybe you might want to form a small committee and delegate persons to have fundraisers or deal with public relations.

Should the coordinators have any special qualifications? No. You do not need to undertake any special courses in leadership or management to have an observance of IMD. Both men and women could serve as coordinators. The physically challenged and the unemployed are serving as coordinators. There are even some prisoners who are now role models and have been annually observing IMD in their jails.

The ‘qualifications’ you need include a positive attitude, a willingness to assist others, and an understanding mind. It would be against the 6 Objectives of IMD if you were to criticize and condemn others. The coordinators and supporters of IMD should not be viewed as an elite group, superior and perfect. We certainly do not have all the answers for all of the problems in the world. Supporters and coordinators of IMD should be humble, willing to work with other groups or movements that are also on this path to create a better world. This would include support of a petition to end poverty, the women’s movement or an environmental group.

WE have a big job ahead. Let’s join together to get it done!


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