International Men’s Day

Jonathan Steven from Kirklees Council shares his experiences with International Men's Day and explains the importance of men engaging in all things inclusion, including gender equality and equity discussions.

“International Men’s Day is an inclusion area I have not previously magnified in other capacities. That is not to say that the date is not important to highlight, nor, provide space to illuminate gender dynamics and interrogate thinking to progress with a gender inclusive environment. To some extent, my personal and professional experiences are weighted in continuing to contribute respectfully, to the important work of womens (including transwomen) empowerment spanning key pillars such as socially, economically and politically.  I was raised and nurtured in the main (childhood and career to date) by tenacious women who spoke and acted with vulnerability and power and shed light on gender equality and equity issues that I will not experience growing up as a man, whilst also providing a space where my gender expression could be light and free. For that, I am forever grateful.

In addition, as a pansexual man and in a same-sex relationship, I had felt for some time including to current day, that International Men’s Day is not a space where all men are reflected. Therefore, I feel I have been cautious about what the date entails and how to meaningfully recognise the event. This is not to say that the date has not been of importance, but maybe a question for me, of representation and connection? Nevertheless, the theme of men and boys wellbeing is very important – we know that through horrifying statistics that men and boys can experience worrying levels of poor mental health which can have an impact on so much that contributes to a fulfilling life.

With all that said, I believe this absolutely magnifies the importance of men engaging in all things inclusion, including gender equality and equity discussions. International Men’s Day provides time and space for reflections and in particular, connecting, engaging, listening and participating in conversations about gender dynamics with colleagues, friends and family. There are great resources available through Inclusive Employers for example among more, that provide learning, unlearning and relearning opportunities to generate thinking and what this means for progressing with inclusion. Importantly, I urge men to find passion in vulnerability, and observe this strength as power for unwavering change in our diverse capacities.

As men, we have opportunities to listen and support others, reflect on the detrimental effects of gender roles in society, interrogate how International Men’s Day is presented whilst considering who is not organically represented,  and contribute to quality and meaningful arenas where we can all navigate change, so we can all benefit.”