December 9, 2019

The Editor speaks: Men’s Day passed me by

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Over a week ago, specifically Monday November 19th, International Men’s Day was celebrated worldwide because of “the positive value men bring to the world, their families and communities”.

Did it pass you by here un-noticed?

Well there was a movie – 15 minutes long – at the Regal Cinemas at Camana Bay. It was called “Men’s Voice” and featured a series of one-on-one interviews. The contributors were several recognisable male influencers in the Cayman Islands, and students from a local school-based mentoring programme.

It was “oversubscribed” and people were standing, although over half the audience were students.

Our Health Minister, Dwayne Seymour, was there, too, and he said, “I was very encouraged to see such a large and diverse crowd of men, women and boys in the audience.”

Minister Seymour also shared some personal experiences which had influenced his belief in the need to encourage more male role models: “As a male and one of the film’s interviewees, it was interesting to hear the views of other men on topics such as living with emotionally distant fathers and the destabilising effects of growing up fatherless. We can all do more to help boys and men surmount the obstacles placed on us by machismo culture and by unrealistic expectations about how men should and should not behave.”

Department of Counselling Services Director, Judith Seymour, said the movie, “Men’s Voice” “…isn’t a men’s film, it’s a people’s one. It’s a call to action, the first step down the long road to ensuring that men and boys feel just as empowered and supported in dealing with issues as women and girls in our community.”

And that was it. No great fanfares. No button hole sprays given to us men from all the women here [all right that is reserved for Father’s Day!]. In fact t International Men’s Day didn’t even warrant a mention at the church I go to.

Actually, International Men’s Day is reasonably recent. According to the International Men’s Day website:

“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 ’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, e.g. “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 ’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.

“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.

“There were various attempts to start an International Men’s Day that received little response. It wasn’t until the November date which was inaugurated in Trinidad and Tobago by Dr. Jerome Teelucksingh in 1999 that International Men’s Day began to get international traction. 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, , Malta, Ghana, Moldova, and Canada and interest in the event is increasing rapidly.

“Since 1999, methods of celebrating International Men’s Day have included public seminars, forums, conferences, festivals and fundraisers, classroom activities at schools, Movember fundraisers, Parliamentary speeches, government observances, radio and television programs, church observations, prayer meetings, award ceremonies, special retail promotions, photos & film competitions, music concerts & art displays, and peaceful awareness marches.”

That’s good. We did show a film, even if it wasn’t part of a competition. There was also a speech from one of our government ministers.

As for the rest of things to do to promote this great day ………. they passed me by.

There is another year to prepare.

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