International Men's Day (IMD) is an annual international event celebrated on 19 November. Inaugurated in 1999 in Trinidad and Tobago, the day and its events find support from a variety of individuals and groups in Australia, the Caribbean, North America, Asia, Europe and Africa.Speaking on behalf of UNESCO, Director of Women and Culture of Peace Ingeborg Breines said of IMD, "This is an excellent idea and would give some gender balance." She added that UNESCO was looking forward to cooperating with the organizers.
The objectives of celebrating an International Men's Day include focusing on men's and boys' health, improving gender relations, promoting gender equality, and highlighting positive male role models. It is an occasion to highlight discrimination against men and boys and to celebrate their achievements and contributions, in particular for their contributions to community, family, marriage, and child care. The broader and ultimate aim of the event is to promote basic humanitarian values.
International Men's Day is celebrated in over 60 countries, including Antigua and Barbuda, Australia, Austria, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Botswana, Burundi, Canada, the Cayman Islands, China, Croatia, Cuba, Denmark, France, Ghana, Grenada, Hungary, India, Ireland, Italy, Isle of Man, Jamaica, Malta, Norway, Pakistan, Romania, Saint Kitts and Nevis, Saint Lucia, Seychelles, Singapore, South Africa, Tanzania, Trinidad and Tobago, Ukraine, the United Kingdom, the United States, and Zimbabwe, on 19 November, and global support for the celebration is broad.
Calls for an International Men's Day have been noted since at least the 1960s, when "many men" were reported to "have been agitating privately to make 23 Feb International Men's Day, the equivalent of 8 March, which is International Women's Day" In the Soviet Union this day was The Red Army and Navy Day since 1922, which was later renamed Defender of the Fatherland Day. The date was informally viewed a male counterpart of Women's Day (8 March) in some territories of the Union, however due to the day's limited focus to historical events some countries of the former union have moved to adopt the more 'male specific' 19 November as International Men's Day, including Belarus, Ukraine, Moldova, and Georgia.
In 1968 American Journalist John P. Harris wrote an editorial in the Salina Journal highlighting a lack of balance in the Soviet system, which promoted an International Women's Day for the female workers without promoting a corresponding day for male workers. Harris stated that although he did not begrudge Soviet women their March day of glory, its resulting gender inequality clearly exhibited a serious flaw in the Communist system, which, "makes much of the equal rights it has given the sexes, but as it turns out, the women are much more equal than the men." Harris stated that while the men toiled along in their grooves doing what their government and womenfolk tell them to do, there was no day when males are recognised for their service, leading Harris to conclude that "This strikes me as unwarranted discrimination and rank injustice." Similar questions about the inequality of observing women's day without a corresponding men's day occurred in media publications from the 1960s through to the 1990s, at which time the first attempts at inaugurating international Men's Day are recorded.
According to its creators, International Men's Day is a time to promote positive aspects of male identity based on the premise that 'males of all ages respond more energetically to positive role models than they do to negative gender stereotyping'. During past years the method of commemorating International Men's Day included public seminars, classroom activities at schools, radio and television programs, peaceful displays and marches, debates, panel discussions, award ceremonies, and art displays. The manner of observing this annual day is optional, and any appropriate forums can be used. Early pioneers of IMD reminded that the day is not intended to compete against International Women's Day, but is for the purpose of highlighting men's experiences. In 2009 the following broad objectives were ratified as a basis for all International Men's Day observations, and are applied equally to men and boys irrespective of their age, ability, social background, ethnicity, sexual orientation, gender identity, religious belief and relationship status:
- To promote positive male role models; not just movie stars and sportsmen but everyday, working class men who are living decent, honest lives.
- To celebrate men's positive contributions to society, community, family, marriage, child care, and to the environment.
- To focus on men's health and wellbeing; social, emotional, physical and spiritual.
- To highlight discrimination against men; in areas of social services, social attitudes and expectations, and law.
- To improve gender relations and promote gender equality.
- To create a safer, better world; where people can live free from harm and grow to reach their full potential
According to Men's Activism News Network, International Men's Day also interfaces with "Movember" – a worldwide moustache growing charity event held during November each year that raises funds and awareness for men's health, one of the key themes promoted on IMD. It also interfaces with Universal Children's Day on 20 November and forms a 48-hour celebration firstly of men, then children respectively, with a recognition of the bonds between them.