“International Men’s Day is designed to promote positive role models in society and develop wholesome individuals. When we make investments towards promoting individual and collective development of key groups in our respective communities, including men and boys, we are able to effectively address key challenges including high incidence of HIV infection, reproductive health challenges, sexual gender-based violence and gender inequalities in different sectors….and make giant steps towards achieving and sustaining development at a global scale. International Men’s Day encourages men to lead by example; boys need positive male role models. Our broader community also needs positive male role models. This is the best strategy to create a fair and safe society which allows everyone the opportunity to flourish and reach their fullest potential.” Rouzeh Eghtessadi, SAfAIDS Executive Director
The 19th of November is celebrated globally as International Men's Day, and aims to raise awareness about the health of men and boys, as well as to promote gender equality and gender relations. This day highlights the positive difference that men bring to the world, communities and to their families. It also raises awareness about men's well-being and issues that men face on a global scale. According to the Good Men Project (2016), globally, male life expectancy, at 68 years, lags five years behind female life expectancy; the life expectancy gap between the sexes has actually widened since 1970 and will widen further by 2030 by then, global male life expectancy is expected to be seven years shorter than female life expectancy. Additionally, men have 40% probability of dying between the ages of 50 and 74, while women have a probability of less than 30%, whilst the global suicide rate in men is almost twice that in women. Approximately 1.25 million people worldwide die each year as a result of road traffic accidents, of which about three-quarters are male. These alarming statistics can be effectively addressed through deliberate efforts to invest in men’s health education to promote more positive masculinities and behaviours increasing access to health and safety information and services.
Observation and commemoration of the Day has evolved from focusing on men’s health and wellbeing to include promotion of male role models, celebration of men’s positive contributions to society, highlight discrimination against men, improve gender relations and promote gender equality as well as focus on creating a safer and better gender-equal world. This year, the Day is being commemorated under the theme, ‘Making a Difference for Men and Boys,’ focusing on the need to value men and boys and to increase efforts towards making practical improvements in the health and well-being of men and boys globally, in line with the 2030 Development Agenda and other global commitments seeking to create, foster and support positive communities. Through systematic integration of meaningful male engagement, applying the Gender Norms Transformative (GNT) Model as a core approach to advancing gender justice, and enabling individuals and structural transformation which recognises and promotes the rights of women and girls, SAfAIDS is contributing to SDG 5, the SADC Gender Protocol, CEDAW and other key regional and global instruments.
SAfAIDS joins like-minded stakeholders in commemorating International Men’s Day, and highlighting the importance of health-developmental initiatives supporting men and boys in all their diversities in the SADC region and beyond, through critical regional and global networks such as the Men Engage Africa and Global Alliances. Through programmes and models promoting GNT approaches and positive masculinity such as Men as Partners, Fatherhood Clubs, Untying the Gender Knot, Changing the River’s Flow and Rock Leadership, SAfAIDS continues to build and strengthen the capacity of men and boys as partners and champions to promote gender equality and equity, as well as equal opportunities for women, men, girls and boys in critical sectors, among them leadership, health, education and employment, in line with regional and global development agendas. Additionally, SAfAIDS remains committed to promoting the health and wellbeing of men through investments in positive health-seeking behaviours to prevent and ultimately eliminate new HIV, sexually transmitted infections (STIs) and tuberculosis (TB) infections among men, women and children, as well as all forms of GBV (including SGBV) and harmful cultural practices which continue to fuel gender inequality and hinder development.
Let us take time to celebrate positive male role models who have made and continue making a difference in public and private spaces, influencing generations of men and boys who spearhead development across different sectors promoting gender equality and justice at family, community, national, regional and global level.
“It is by standing up for the rights of girls and women that we truly measure up as men.” –Bishop Desmond Tutu
Knowledge for action: The power to make a difference!