10 October, 2016
SEEING INVISIBLE MEN AND BOYS: JEROME TEELUCKSINGH, Ph.D.
On 19 November 2015, a panel discussion was held at the Student Activity Center at The University of the West Indies, in Trinidad and Tobago (in the Caribbean). It was spearheaded by an undergraduate female student, Ms. Michelle Roopnarine, and featured Dr. John Gedeon of the University's Office of Planning and Development; Ramia Coleman, the Chairman of the all-male Hall of Residence on campus; and Jonathan St. Louis-Nahous, the Guild of Students' Representative for Part-time and Evening Students. The panel successfully generated some interest and lively discussion among a cross-section of students on campus and across faculties. During the past five years, similar small scale observances have been held on campus. Despite this recognition many students and members of the public are still unaware of the existence of International Men’s Day.
From 1999, International Men’s Day was tailored and revamped to continue building the global Men’s Movement and promote an ideology that would encourage peace, resolve disputes, and transcend the growing gender gap. The annual observances of International Men’s Day on November 19th indicate a global concern for the numerous problems plaguing families and the rest of society.
The focus of International Men’s Day is not restricted to men but includes boys, women, teenagers and children. The underlying message is that ongoing conflict among men, women, and children must cease and the healing must begin. The observances of International Men’s Day are part of a global non-violent revolution. It is annually observed by persons who support the ongoing effort to improve lives, heal scarred lives, seek solutions to social problems, heal the seemingly irreparable troubled minds, help the dysfunctional, and promote positive role models in society.
Men’s organisations, anti-war groups, peace organizations, women’s groups, Gender Departments at universities, politicians, and individuals from all walks of life have annually celebrated International Men’s Day. One illustration is the decision in 2010 to have observances among prisoners and the selection of Carry Greaves, in 2012, as an Empowerment Coordinator. Greaves, a father, is incarcerated at a correctional facility in New York in the United States. Undoubtedly, International Men’s Day has transcended language barriers, geographical boundaries, political ideology and religious differences. Furthermore, International Men’s Day observances are not restricted to any particular class, gender, age and occupation.
In 2013, the Institute for Gender and Development Studies, (IGDS) Mona Unit, (in Jamaica) issued a press release as it joined the rest of the world in observing International Men’s Day, which stated:
“ . . .We salute all male role models on the UWI Mona campus as students and staff, and urge the UWI family to collaborate in changing unequal gender relations that undermine the health and safety of both males and females. We encourage the UWI Mona family to: build partnerships based on mutual respect, human rights, gender equality; change attitudes and behaviors in order to eliminate all forms of discrimination and violence; increase male participation in education, and support implementation of international human rights commitments, Jamaica's National Policy for Gender Equality as well as the UWI’s Gender Policy and Gender Action Plan.” Such bold statements are relevant for the present and future.
A considerable number of feminists have not felt threatened by International Men’s Day and welcome the six objectives of IMD. Interestingly, some of the goals of feminists are similar to the six pillars of International Men’s Day which include promoting gender equality. International Men’s Day is unique in that some of its greatest promoters and supporters are women. These women include Diane Sears of the United States who serves as the International Men's Day Coordinator, Chair of the United States 2012-2022 International Men’s Day Ten Year Plan Committee, and is a member of the International Men’s Day Coordination Committee. Other dynamic women include Marie Clarence of Hungary, Geneuvieve Twala of Botswana who is the International Men’s Day Coordinator for the nation of Botswana, Nelcia Robinson-Marshall of St. Vincent, along with Kavita Ganness and Gabrielle Grant of Trinidad and Tobago who have all realized the positive benefits International Men’s Day will have on our families, neighborhoods, nations and the world.
Additionally, Uma Challa of India, is part of the International Men's Day Coordination Committee. Under her leadership, last year India was extremely proactive in its observance for International Men's Day. An International Men's Day Flash Mob was organized with Men and Boys dancing in the streets, a video of a famous female Indian actress who talked about the importance of Men and International Men's Day was produced and uploaded to the Internet, the creation and implementation of the "Show Men Some Love Wear Blue On International Men's Day" movement and an International Men's Day song entitled, "Show Men Some Love." Other women around the world, who support International Men’s Day, have proven to be visionaries and have been a tremendous asset to the Global Men’s Movement.
International Men’s Day promotes constructive dialogue between both sexes for greater understanding and tolerance. Additionally, the promoters of this day hope it will help reduce the polarization between the men’s movement and the women’s movement. Indeed, International Men’s Day highlights the common bonds of humanity. Those persons supporting International Men’s Day seek to restore the dignity and respect of members of the human family. The supporters, coordinators, and participants have been trying to offer different perspectives and new ideas for the leader and layperson. The movement has embraced all persons and is not interested in continuing problems and promoting divisions.
The global support of International Men’s Day reflects the widespread willingness in building a society aspiring for peace and a more tolerant and understanding future generation. Annual themes and topics focused on health, gender relations, and fatherhood. Also discussed are the linkages among gender, religion, class, ethnicity, poverty, environmental protection, and nationalism.
International Men’s Day is gradually generating support that will be a wake-up call for the media and contribute to men and women being portrayed as honest, decent, morally upright, and possessing morals. Only then would there be a chance for real and permanent change. This men’s movement must initiate an era of enlightenment where dynamic, rational role models will emerge with a mandate to positively transform our world.
The celebration of this special day includes promoting solidarity and developing wholesome individuals. Such developments are badly needed in today’s wounded communities which reflect many scars due to many distorted and outdated beliefs and constant clashes among men, women and children which unravels the fabric of the family and the society. Undoubtedly, the philosophy underlying International Men’s Day is much more than optimistic thinking and rhetoric; it is a way of life, a world view, an alternative peace model designed so that the next generation will nurture and continue to sow the seeds of tolerance, acceptance and harmony.
International Men’s Day has the potential to improve our lives, positively influencing those who govern us and preserving our environment. International Men’s Day intends to continue promoting a safer and better world and be the voice for the victims of war, troubled souls, the oppressed and the physically and mentally challenged.
Today, International Men’s Day is observed in approximately eighty countries. The most recent country, Uganda, officially joined the movement in September 2016. Volunteers and well-wishers of International Men’s Day are constantly devising strategies and creating a global community that is more collaborative and less aggressive. International Men’s Day is not a top-down movement limited to a few persons. It has spread among the grassroots and maintained its growth among neighborhoods and communities. International Men’s Day has sought to dismantle the many stereotypes associated with males and females. And, more importantly, International Men’s Day has challenged those who are unable to see the “invisible” boys and men who are positively contributing to our society.
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