I’m not sure if I’m alone in this, but this year is the first time I’ve been aware of International Men’s Day (IMD). Unlike International Women’s Day, which has been around since 1909, International Men’s Day is relatively new. It was founded in 1999 by Dr Jerome Teelucksingh – a university lecturer in Trinidad Tabago.
The focus for International Men’s Day is on men’s and boy’s health, improving gender relations, promoting gender equality and highlighting positive role models.
The focus on male health is vital as there are a series of health challenges that are peculiar to men. Did you know that in Australia in 2016 the mortality rate for men with prostate cancer was higher than women with breast cancer (3,248 vs 2,976)? This is not a gender competition, but historically, men’s health issues haven’t received the same level of awareness. Here’s a few more you may or may not be aware of:
- men have a suicide rate three times higher than women
- 1 in 3 men have been the victims of domestic violence
- men on average die 4-5 years before women
- men are nearly twice as likely to suffer from lung cancer than women
- men are almost twice as likely to suffer from heart disease than women
So in addition to bringing awareness of men’s health issues, IMD is also an excellent opportunity to celebrate the achievements and positive contributions that men have made to the world we live in.
Over the course of a day I made a list of the various things that I used that made life easier or more enjoyable – car, electricity, light bulb, vacuum cleaner, KitchenAid, coffee machine, refrigerator, electric oven, iPad, mobile phone, internet, laptop, lawn mower, printing press, solar panels, Wi-Fi, and television. All of these were invented or discovered by men.
Thankfully I had no need to visit any hospitals, but if we look at the area of medical advancement – X-Ray, ultrasound, keyhole surgery, anaesthesia, penicillin, prosthetic limbs, etc. all invented or discovered by men.
Those lists aren’t meant to be exhaustive; my point is that the media love to highlight men misbehaving; however, there are so many instances where some of the traditionally male characteristics – the desire to conquer, the natural propensity towards problem-solving, competitiveness, the desire to protect – when directed towards the appropriate pursuits, have led to incredibly positive outcomes. Moreover, I think that’s something worth celebrating.
However, it’s not just about celebrating the hero inventors and famous world changers. International Men’s Day is also about honouring the men who quietly go about their everyday lives keeping the country running, faithfully serving their families and their communities; not seeking fuss or fanfare, just doing the right thing, making their world a better place.
When writing More Like The Father I had the privilege of interviewing a group of these men to understand the common characteristics of great fathers. They were inspiring examples of these quiet achievers; men whose adult children have such admiration for their fathers that they would like to become more like them; men genuinely humbled that their children would say that about them.
So as we celebrate this International Men’s Day, let’s all find a few good men in our world and thank them for the positive contribution they’re making.