Why International Men’s Day is important for inclusive cultures

With International Men’s Day (IMD) fast approaching, Aamani Rehman, Inclusion & Diversity Consultant, explains how it’s an opportunity to empower and stand with men across the UK. Aamani also shares ideas on how you can celebrate IMD in your organisation.

International Men’s Day takes place on the 19th November and is a day dedicated to celebrating and raising awareness of the contribution men and boys make to their communities. Working in the realm of I&D, you may feel disconnected from the concept of this day and that men are always celebrated. As we advocate and strive for equality and representation, Inclusive Employers believe IMD is an opportunity to have new conversations with and about men, in order to advance inclusion for all.   

The history of International Men’s Day

International Men’s Day started in Trinidad and Tobago in 1999, it was created by Dr Jerome Tuluck Singh to commemorate his father’s birthday. Fast forward 22 years and it is now celebrated in over 80 countries with the aim of highlighting:

  • the social issues faced by men both mentally and physically
  • the role of men as active parents
  • men as positive agents of change in society; role modelling inclusive behaviours
  • seeing the different identities of men through the lens of intersectionality

It is a chance to share, listen to and be inspired by the diverse experiences that men have. And indeed, to recognise the many different types of men that do have a positive impact on society. It might be true that in many societies men have been the dominant group, but it doesn’t mean that they are not also victims of inequality. Learning about these varying experiences can help us to truly understand the experience of men.

Just look at mental health in men. Some of the numbers are astounding. For example, three times as many men as women die by suicide. We must reframe these discussions and start talking more about men’s mental health and well-being. In our webinars, we often talk about structural and institutional inequality and how this has created a society that perpetuates the majority of history. By opening up conversations about these inequalities, dominant groups and perceived roles that we have in society we can do more to understand it and progress it.

IMD is not only an opportunity to engage with men, but it helps men gain the confidence to engage with inclusion. The day can give male inclusion allies an opportunity to step forward and be heard.

How to celebrate International Men’s Day

Here are some ideas to help you celebrate IMD in your organisation:

  • Training: host a webinar or workshop on International Men’s Day, discussing the importance of the day and the essential role men can play in being inclusion allies.
  • Engage with your gender network: think about ways you can engage your network in the discussion of inclusion and highlight important topics, including: mental health, physical health, parenting, giving a voice to underrepresented voices, supporting the gender balance conversation, being inclusive of trans men in male spaces.
  • Hold an informal men’s forum that can act as a safe space: book a session where people can come and discuss issues such as mental health, parenting, acting as inclusion allies and what the organisation can do to support them. This could be run by an I&D lead or champion in the business or someone who is a positive role model for inclusion.
  • Hear from inclusion role models who can inspire others: having senior people in your company act as allies and role models. Sharing their experiences can be very empowering and encourage other men to join.
  • Line managers as champions, but not experts: consider ways of empowering line managers to be more vulnerable, to talk about mental health, workload and stress as part of normal conversations in 1-2-1s. This can help men at work to feel more comfortable to open up when facing issues.    
  • Playing your part in the community: supporting local charities or centres that aim to improve the lives of underrepresented men and young boys.

For more information about IMD and more support on how you can celebrate it in your organisation, members can access our International Men’s Day toolkit in the members area of our website.