Every year on November 19, men across the world celebrate International Men’s Day. The holiday, which was founded in 1999 at the University of the West Indies, seeks to shine a spotlight on men’s health issues. Over the years, that goal has been accomplished by organizations seeking to highlight positive male role models and sponsor frank discussions of issues like mental wellness and toxic masculinity. The holiday has gained some ground in recent years, with several countries recognizing it as a holiday. At the same time, the holiday has received a lot of online criticism.
A primary source of criticism leveled at this holiday is its similarity to International Women’s Day (IWD). IWD, celebrated on March 8, was founded to recognize and support the continued fight for women’s rights around the world. As men across the world benefit from social advantages already, there is a question of why this holiday exists. Do men really need a day to celebrate their contributions to the world when the world does that every day? The main website for the holiday does note that this holiday was not intended to compete with IWD. At the same time, some organizations celebrating this holiday have received support for their efforts to alter the theme of the holiday.
Recent efforts on the holiday have been aimed at tackling toxic masculine attitudes and encouraging involved fatherhood. Other international holidays like World Mental Health Day do encourage discussion of these topics, which adds to further critiques for a separate International Men’s Day. The holiday continues to hold a divisive reputation. Whether or not one supports the holiday, pushing for gender equality and justice for all people is something that can be done any day of the year.
Whether or not one supports International Men’s Day, it transpires during a month that is dedicated to numerous related charitable causes. The United Nations has marked November 25 as the International Day for the Eradication of Violence Against Women. During this time, men are encouraged to speak up and fight these abuses. November also marks the start of No Shave November, which was originally started to fight prostate cancer. These two causes are supported by multiple organizations that could use volunteer and monetary support. Even a small donation can make a major difference.