This year marks 100 years since certain women in the UK were granted the right to vote, with events across the country marking the centenary on February 6. Just over a month later women's rights were brought to the fore again with the arrival of International Women's Day, which takes place on March 8 every year - however not everybody was happy about it.
The global event encourages every man, woman and child to recognise the ongoing fight for equality between the genders. According to the World Economic Forum, the pay gap which sees men earn more than women won't close until 2186; figures also show that women are worse off than men in terms of education and health.
But on March 8 every year, the same inquisitive/pointed questions get asked again and again, especially on Twitter. Namely, 'is there an International Men's Day?' and 'when is it?'. Fear not - we have the answers. Here is everything you need to know about International Men's Day
So, is there an International Men's Day?
Yes, the good news for everyone is that there is indeed an International Men's Day - and it falls on November 19 every year.
The even better news is that the comedian Richard Herring takes it upon himself every year to spend International Women's Day answering those questions. Typically, his replies begin politely, grow ever more exasperated, and end in a torrent of fury.
Yes. November 19th!!! Not yet a Teach men to Google day though, sadly https://t.co/JPkWJuruTr— Richard K Herring (@Herring1967) March 8, 2018
You have to wait. Until November 19th. Seems gauche to bring it up today. Bet you’re a real downer at other people’s birthday parties https://t.co/nuFFQNpg8A— Richard K Herring (@Herring1967) March 8, 2018
This is embarrassing. You’re celebrating being a man on the women’s day. You need to wait til November 19th. I imagine some of your pals will have a field day if they know they think you are a woman. Personally I am cool with it. it’s a spectrum, right? https://t.co/FwZM1k8Taa— Richard K Herring (@Herring1967) March 8, 2018
On a scale of 1 to 10 how hard would you say you had looked? https://t.co/KXqXWGFvUb— Richard K Herring (@Herring1967) March 8, 2018
The day's history
International Women's Day has been around a lot longer than its counterpart for men. In 1910, a woman called Clara Zetkin – leader of the ‘women’s office’ for the Social Democratic Party in Germany – tabled the idea of an International Women’s Day. She suggested that every country should celebrate women on one day every year to push for their demands.
International Women's Day was first celebrated in Austria, Denmark, Germany and Switzerland on March 19 1911. In 1913, it was decided to transfer IWD to March 8, and it has been celebrated on that day ever since - and the day was officially recognised by the United Nations in 1975.
By the 1960s, men were starting to feel left behind; in 1968 the US journalist John P Harris wrote about the lack of an equivalent day for men in the Salina Journal, saying: "This strikes me as unwarranted discrimination and rank injustice."
But no large-scale event was successful for several decades; in the 1990s some events were held in the US, Australia and Europe however they failed to take off in the following years.
It wasn't until 1999 that the day began to take shape. Jerome Teelucksingh, a history lecturer at University of the West Indies in Trinidad and Tobago, organised events for International Men's Day, holding the day on his father's birthday.
The day has gone from strength to strength and now aims to address six key issues, which its organisers call 'the 6 Pillars of International Men’s Day'. These are:
- To promote positive male role models; not just movie stars and sports men but every day, 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 be safe and grow to reach their full potential
This year's IMD
Each year a theme is assigned to the event, with 2018's theme centred on men leading by example. The International Men's Day website says the theme encourages men to teach the boys in their lives the responsibilities, adding:
'Mahatma Gandhi said, “We must become the change we seek.” It is only when we all, both men and women, lead by example that we will create a fair and safe society which allows everyone the opportunity to prosper.'
In recent years International Men's Day has focused on the issues which affect men more than women, highlighting the areas where males are negatively impacted by the societal norms. Men have a suicide rate which is three times higher than women, while one in three men have reportedly been the victims of domestic violence.
Do we need an International Men's Day?
On Telegraph Men, we regularly argue that men deserve our own day in the calendar to highlight issues that affect masculinity the world over. That's not to say, however, that these issues should be the focus of attention on International Women's Day. They really shouldn't.
Here's an explanation by Glen Poole, UK co-ordinator for International Men’s Day, on why International Men's Day deserves recognition:
Do we really need an international day for men? In a world where us chaps are still running politics, business, religion, media and sport, it seems only fair that the ladies have had their own international day for over a century, but for the men to muscle in with a day of their own day, well, it’s not very gentlemanly, is it?
And yet all is not well in the state of “Man Land”.
We know that men in the UK are still dying four years sooner than women, on average; that 12 men each day take their own lives; that 90% of rough sleepers are men; that 95% of the prison population is male; that seven out of ten murder victims are male; that girls are outperforming boys at every stage of education; that women are a third more likely to go to university than men; that young men account for 70% of long-term youth unemployment; that male graduates are 50% more likely to be unemployed; that men in their twenties are earning less than their female peers; that 96% of people who die at work are male and that men accounted for 84% of suicides linked to the recession.