There’s a day for everything now: National Pizza Day, International Talk Like a Pirate Day (apparently) and there is even a day for men. Yes. It may surprise you to know that today is International Men’s Day and, perhaps even more surprisingly, it has actually been celebrated for over two decades.
Now, my Mum would say that every day is “Men’s Day”. But I’m not sure I agree.
The recent wave of female-led campaigns on equal pay, and the #metoo movement have dominated employment headlines. Whilst positive steps in championing women’s rights are to be applauded, it does make me question where men fit into the conversation. Have we lost the male perspective? Even worse, are we in danger of ignoring the contribution of men to a positive working environment and the unique challenges they face?
Most of us have men in our lives. My dad, husband, son, and male colleagues have all enriched my life and helped me in my career and continue to do so. International Men’s Day is not intended to serve as an antithesis to International Women’s Day but rather to highlight how we can all work together to change gender stereotyping and discrimination. The day is dedicated to shining a spotlight on men making a positive difference in the world and raising awareness of issues facing men on a global scale, including mental health, toxic masculinity and the prevalence of male suicide. As Professor Green reminded us in his inspirational talk at the firm earlier this month, in the UK, men are three times more likely than women to commit suicide. This corresponded to 17.2 men in every 100,000 killing themselves in 2018, a significant rise from the 15.5 in every 100,000 in 2017. Men face a number of significant challenges that can impact their personal and working life that deserve the spotlight of a dedicated day. And successes and positive impact of men should also be celebrated.
Ultimately we are doing gender equality a disservice if we ignore the challenges men face or fail to celebrate their successes, and positive impact on the workplace. Championing female rights and achievements does not need to be at the exclusion or detriment of men’s rights, and successes. Men should not be removed from the conversation about gender equality: they should be a key part of it.
So I will definitely be celebrating the “mighty good” men in my life today.