I was asked a question on Reddit about International Men’s Day and thought I would share the answer here:
Can you give a bit more context about IMD? What’s the background, reason for you being involved, why we should all get involved/care?
On 19 November 1989, Jerome Teelucksingh watched the Trinidad and Tobago soccer team play the United States to qualify for the 1990 world cup. It was a home game for Trinidad and Tobago and they only needed a draw to qualify. This was the closest they had ever come to the world cup and the atmosphere on the islands was electric.
Fans crammed into the overcrowded stadium and people sat in close circles around TVs and radios. Everybody was unified with one vision of making into the world cup. It was an incredible sense of community and solidarity that had a profound effect on young Jerome.
Inspired by this sense of community and a compassion for the young men of the Trinidad and Tobago, Jerome started International Men’s Day on 19 November 1999.
Since then, International Men’s Day has spread to over 80 countries.
International Men’s Day is a grassroots celebration which means that each country, each organisation and each person is free to approach it in their own way. There are six pillars of international men’s day:
- To promote positive male role models; not just movie stars and sportsmen but every day men who are living decent, honest lives.
- To celebrate men’s positive contributions to society, community, family, marriage, childcare, and 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 be safe and grow to reach their full potential.
In New Zealand, we are focusing on men’s wellbeing and the contributions of the men in our lives.
I failed two years of Drama in high school, but it paid off when, at age 18, I went for a job interview for ‘peer supporter’ at the soon to be open Youth Health Centre in Christchurch. It was group interviews and I managed to put on a good show. Fortunately, I also ended up being good at the job.
This was in the 1990s when the suicide rate for young men had jumped up dramatically. So we were very concerned about how to help young men. This was my introduction to some of the issues men face. Jump forward to early last year and figured that International Men’s Day was a way to support men in New Zealand.
To become the co-ordinator of International Men’s Day in New Zealand I had the easiest job interview ever. I simply started coordinating International Men’s Day. I spoke to the UK co-ordinator and he said that pretty much all I needed to do because no one else was doing it.
Being authentic is important to me so I am reluctant to embrace corporate marketing strategies, but I did have a chat with a media consultant who was keen to help and he said I needed a mission statement and a vision statement. Writing these was actually a useful exercise. Here they are:
IMD’s mission is to create a stronger sense of unity and community for everybody by creating a positive space to encourage, support and celebrate men and to discuss men’s issues in a positive and affirming way. IMD provides a focal point that amplifies everyone’s individual efforts.
IMD’s vision is a society where men know they are appreciated, where they are encouraged to thrive, and where they have and feel the support of their communities.
I hope that wasn’t too long of an answer to your question.