It is easy to look back at the year 2018 and dub it ‘The Year of the Woman’ as throughout the globe many women’s movements have risen up to fight for women’s rights. It has become very transparent for many what some of the everyday issues of women are. As we enter the month of November, dubbed Movember, in anticipation of International Men’s Day, many begin to question the very celebration of International Men’s Day.
Isn’t everyday technically Men’s Day? What are men’s issues?
This has been a question that has been debated for decades since women’s issues have gained prominence through the rise of the feminist movement.
If we were to consider men’s issues what might they be?
- Men’s Physical and Psychological Health Concerns
- Academic Underachievement/Enrollment
- Perpetual Cycles of Crime and Violence
- Fatherhood/ Parenting in Separations
- Financial Pressures
And the list goes on.
One might argue that women also face these issues too. However, we as a society must begin to look at issues that are especially unique to men, issues that continue to grow in relation to men and prevalent issues which have been consistently difficult to treat with for men in society.
The International Men’s movement was provoked during a transition from what was called first wave feminism which focused on voting and property ownership rights, to a second wave feminism which began fighting against the unequal position of women in the labour market and issues that were inhumane in the public sector such as sexual harassment among many other issues. With the rise of feminism to advocate for human rights concerns which were plaguing women for centuries[rightly so], this paved the way for men to also re-examine inequitable gender relations and thereby re-examine their own gendered struggles.
It started off as a backlash to the feminist movement, but it continues to evolve from a fight against feminism, toward a greater understanding that archaic patriarchal systems have not only oppressed and affected women, but it also affects men’s physical and psychological well being.
Overview of the Men’s Movement in the Caribbean
The recognition of the struggles of men has led to the formation of many men’s groups over the last couple of decades in the Caribbean Region. Men’s groups began developing in the Caribbean since 1991 when the group Fathers Inc. was created by Barry Chevannes in Jamaica. This group emerged to instill responsibility in men as fathers toward their children. Several others emerged throughout the two decades since then, in response to alarming problems which men were involved with. Men Against Violence Against Women (MAVAW) was formed in Trinidad and Tobago in 1994 to respond to violent male behavior and the Men’s Educational Support Association (MESA) in Barbados grew to support men’s literacy. At least these were the ones documented. Following that, several men’s programmes were introduced through different agencies and NGO’s across the Caribbean including Family Planning Association (FPA), the Young Men’s Christian Association (YMCA) and Rape Crisis Society in Trinidad and Tobago; and the Child Care Board and the Parent Education for Development (PAREDO) in Barbados. Some Caribbean governments also introduced men’s programmes through their divisions/ ministries focused on gender and development.
Over the last decade active groups such as the Single Fathers Association also emerged in Trinidad and Tobago to highlight the difficulties experienced during the granting of child custody and visitation rights in favor of women without the recognition of men who wanted to take responsibility for fathering their children. In addition, CariMAN has been the first Caribbean men’s regional organization. CariMAN aims to strengthen and support men’s groups whose work focuses on the promotion of social justice. One of their flagship projects include Champions for Change which began in Barbados in 2010. This project focused on empowering men to advocate for the elimination of violence against women and girls. This project then continued in Antigua and Barbuda, the Bahamas, Dominica, Jamaica, Trinidad and Tobago, and Guyana. They continue to collaborate with United Nation agencies in developing and supporting men’s initiatives throughout the Caribbean.
There are many ways in which you can support men’s issues. Try reaching out to any one of the organisations listed above or any in your community that takes consistent action to raise awareness on men’s issues. In November each year, join the Movember Foundation and grow your beard to raise awareness on men’s health issues, particularly testicular and prostate cancer and suicide. How will you take action this month?