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14 April, 2010

THE FUTURE AND INTERNATIONAL MEN'S DAY: DR. JEROME TEELUCKSINGH

I never expected that International Men’s Day would generate high levels of enthusiasm, understanding and cooperation. I’m grateful to all who assisted with advice, suggestions and recommendations. The priceless inputs of these persons were lifelines which contributed to the success of International Men’s Day. Their input was the valuable lifeblood which kept IMD alive.

Some might be wondering if International Men’s Day will have any impact on the future. Others might wonder- what is the life expectancy of IMD? Will it end soon? I am certain that this unique day which is supported by men and women from diverse backgrounds will continue to grow and positively impact on our world.

Undoubtedly, future generations will be changed in their thinking, interaction and decisions. IMD will generate sufficient support which will be a wake-up call for the media and contribute to men and women being portrayed as honest, decent, morally upright, possessing morals and displaying integrity. More importantly, if IMD influences our world leaders and religious leaders, then there will be a noteworthy reduction or end to problems such as poverty, nuclear weapons, religious bigotry, unemployment, terrorism and racism.

Hopefully, there will be annual international gatherings where coordinators and supporters could meet, share ideas and discuss issues. At these gatherings the future direction and leadership of the men’s movement should be assessed. The convening of these meetings should be in different countries each year. Probably international organizations or wealthy individuals could assist in funding such a venture. Or, coordinators might decide to establish a fund to ensure these international meetings occur.

Coordinators and participants must also appreciate the interconnectedness in our global village. Thus, coordinators should devise themes and deal with topics which are relevant to society. Themes and topics focusing on gender relations, masculinity/femininity, fatherhood/motherhood are important. But also discuss and explore the linkages among gender, religion, class, ethnicity, poverty, media, environmental protection and nationalism.

We live in a constantly changing society with diverse voices. Thus, we must expect debates on acceptable values, morals, ethics and behaviour. Some will question, criticize or attempt to undermine the 6 Objectives of IMD. Supporters, promoters and coordinators should see themselves as protectors and keepers of the 6 Objectives of International Men’s Day. These Objectives are self-explanatory and transparent and should not be misunderstood or used for ulterior motives.

A coordinator should not feel they are superior because he or she has been observing IMD longer than another coordinator or group. Likewise, participants and supporters should not believe their involvement in International Men’s Day makes them better than persons who recently joined the movement. Participants and supporters must be empowered at the IMD observances. In turn, they would instil confidence, provide hope and support for others in distress and need.

Some would be hoping that in the future, the United Nations would recognize International Men’s Day and include it in their calendar. This would be ideal but any official endorsement from the United Nations or a government should not hamper the growth of International Men’s Day or the movement. For more than a decade, the continued support from millions of enthusiastic persons is more than sufficient proof of a unique Day which is vibrant, powerful and will continue to thrive. A solid foundation is in place for others to continue building and expanding.

In the future, more universities such as Akamai University in Hawaii, and organizations such as Positive Men’s Movement of South Africa (POMESA) and the Association for Men's Rights (in Malta) must continue to be invited to be part of the IMD family. Existing networks must be strengthened and coordinators must continue and initiate global dialogue to prevent the men’s movement from being fragmented and disjointed. The decision by groups to shift their Men’s Day observances to November 19 was one of the strongest indicators of a spirit of willingness for unity and solidarity within the men’s movement.

The decision to observe IMD does not mean that groups/societies and individuals have lost their autonomy or identity. Also, observing IMD should not mean that groups/organizations have compromised their goals or vision. The observance and celebration of International Men’s Day should be seen as complementing and strengthening your goals and efforts.

A relevant question we might ask now and in the future: Has IMD failed because there are still problems as adultery, divorces, domestic violence and child abuse? The existence of these problems mean we have to work more effectively and work together to find solutions. We need to re-examine our strategies and devise new methods to cope with existing and future problems. We cannot continue to blame the past or others for these problems. The blame game must end! Undoubtedly, IMD is more than optimistic thinking and rhetoric, it is a way of life that the next generation will nurture and continue to sow the seeds of peace and harmony.

RECORDING, RECOGNIZING, AND REMEMBERING INTERNATIONAL MEN'S DAY: DR. JEROME TEELUCKSINGH


It is important that you record some or all of your involvement in International Men’s Day. Why? Future coordinators and supporters would be interested to know how they could continue your work and improve the observances. Additionally, it is important that your efforts are preserved for present and future researchers on gender relations, masculinity or the men’s movement. Photographs, audio recordings and newspaper clippings could be placed on websites, CDs or DVDs and donated to libraries and universities. Recording your achievements, plans and thoughts in a journal or blog is also a good idea. If resources are available, publish a pamphlet or booklet with recommendations or observations from your previous IMD observances. A short video posted on YouTube would certainly reach a wide audience. Be proud of your accomplishments!

Should there be a formal program for the observance of International Men’s Day ("IMD")? Should cultural events and religious persons be included in the observances of IMD? The answer to both questions depends on the coordinator and his/her team or group. You can have a formal meeting with events and speakers or you might opt for convening an informal gathering and then encourage spontaneous discussion on topics or a theme. Try to ensure there is diversity in your participants and audience and of course- avoid excluding any groups in society. Remember that even though IMD deals with serious issues the observances do not have to be dull and boring. Be creative and make the observances interesting, fun and exciting! For instance organize a quiz and give prizes for the winners.

Providing tangible tokens for participants and members of your audience will also help carry the message of International Men’s Day. Small tokens or souvenirs such as bookmarks, pens, jerseys, notepads, buttons, hats, pencils, stickers and posters could be distributed or sold at IMD observances. These souvenirs could have a logo or simply the words- International Men’s Day 19 November’. Recently a group suggested a calendar for IMD and each month had uplifting thoughts and a picture with fathers, grandfathers, teenagers. Each picture had men in positive everyday situations- having meals with their families, advising their children and at work. Such ideas will ensure that IMD is not confined to one day in the year but seen as an ongoing activity…a way of living.

Rewarding persons who have been promoting and supporting International Men’s Day will be appealing. On 19 November, coordinators might decide to present plaques, medals or certificates to outstanding persons in the community who adheres to the 6 Objectives of IMD. Anyone could be honored- a teenager who excels academically, a policewoman for assisting troubled youths in the neighbourhood, or a single dad who is a role model as he works and cares for his children. This recognition of persons in the community or country will provide role models for the public and also promote International Men’s Day.

Some persons and organizations have appreciated the importance of IMD and have been having activities a few days prior to 19 November. Is this permissible? Yes, the events and publicity in the days prior to, or after 19 November certainly helps increase awareness of this special Day and its significance.