International Men’s Day, observed on November 19, focuses on men’s health, improving gender relations, highlighting male role models, and promoting positive expressions of masculinity. It’s also an opportunity to recognize men who don’t fall into traditional manifestations of masculinity, such as gay and bisexual men, transgender, or masculine non-binary people. International Men’s Day is observed on November 19, although when the holiday was first created, it was celebrated in February.
History of International Men's Day
In 1968, an American journalist named John P. Harris wrote an editorial highlighting a lack of balance in the Soviet system, which promoted an International Women’s Day for female workers but failed to deliver a male counterpart. Harris stated that though he agreed there should be a day to celebrate women, the day was a flaw within the communist system.
In the early 1990s, Thomas Oaster, the Missouri Center for Men’s Studies director, invited organizations in the U.S., Australia, and Malta to hold small International Men’s Day events during February. Easter hosted these events for two years, but his 1995 attempt was poorly attended. Discouraged, he ceased plans to continue the function. Australia followed suit, making Malta the only country to continue celebrating.
In 1999 Trinidad and Tobago, the day was revived by Jerome Teelucksingh from the University of the West Indies. He realized that even though there was a day for fathers, there was no day to celebrate men who didn’t have kids or were young boys and teenagers. However, Teelucksingh understood the importance of positive male role models, as his father had been an excellent example for him, and chose to celebrate International Men’s Day on November 19 — the day of his father’s birthday as well as the day a local soccer team had united his country with their endeavors to qualify for the world cup.
Since Teelucksingh’s revival, International Men’s Day has promoted positive aspects of male identity based on the premise that men respond more constructively to positive role models than negative gender stereotyping. The day is not intended to compete with International Women’s Day but to highlight the importance of men’s physical and mental health and positive masculinity.
International Men's Day Timeline
American journalist John P. Harris wrote an editorial about how the Soviet Union celebrating International Women’s Day and not having an International Men’s Day went against the basic concepts of communism.
Thomas Oaster invited organizations to host small Men’s Day events in the U.S., Australia, and Malta.
International Men’s Day revival
Jerome Teelucksingh from Trinidad and Tobago revived International Men’s Day to highlight positive male role models and the importance of men’s health.
Malta makes the change
Malta, which was still celebrating International Men’s Day in February, officially switched the day to be observed in November to be synchronized with the rest of the world.
International Men's Day By Number
As one of the key objectives of International Men’s Day is men’s health and wellbeing, here are some statistics aligned with that objective.
87% – The percentage of rough sleepers who are men.
73% – The percentage of people who go missing that are male.
76% – The percentage of suicides that are by men.
8.7% – The percentage of men who are alcohol dependent.
26% – The percentage of men who suffer from high cholesterol.
76 – The life expectancy of a man born in the U.S.
22% – The percentage of men who have experienced mental health problems in the last year.
International Men's Day Activities
- Donate to a men’s charity
- There are lots of charities dedicated to helping men live better lives. The Gay Men’s Health Crisis helps to reduce the spread of HIV/AIDS and to help those who have HIV improve their health and independence. (Despite the name, it also assists straight men). The Sean Kimerling Testicular Cancer Foundation helps to raise awareness of testicular cancer and highlights the importance of self-examination. And the ManKind Initiative is dedicated to helping men escape and recover from domestic violence and abuse.
- Learn more about lesser-known influential men
- Consider picking up a book or watching a movie about an exceptional man whose life and work still impact the world today. The Black American Experience tells the story of Dr. Daniel Hale Williams, the second man in history (and the first black man) to perform a successful open-heart surgery. The Imitation Game is a moving and dramatic portrait of Alan Turing, the man who invented modern computing and helped end World War Two. Which influential men would you like to learn more about?
- Check-in with the men in your life
- Building positive relationships with men is a lofty goal, but it does have humble beginnings. Check in with your male family members and friends, and see how they’re doing. If we’re happy at home, that’s half the battle.
Why We Love International Men's Day
- It’s a day to celebrate all men.
- The common line that “every day is International Men’s Day” may bear some truth, but the fact is that not all men are celebrated to the same degree. International Men’s Day reminds us that there are many different kinds of men worldwide, and they all deserve a voice.
- It’s a day for helping people.
- Men face a lot of pressure in society—for example, they’re expected to be providers and to refrain from asking for help or sharing their feelings. International Men’s Day is all about addressing these problems and redefining masculinity.
- It’s All About Gender Equality
- Gender equality is always a worthy goal, and International Men’s Day reminds us to make a special effort to strive for positive relations across the entire gender spectrum.