November 19th is the annual observance of International Men’s Day. Over 60 countries around the world mark the occasion by celebrating positive male attributes, promoting gender equality and highlighting positive male role models.
While the inaugural International Men’s Day was held in Trinidad and Tobago in 1999, the Cayman Islands officially joined the world wide observation last year for the first time by holding an International Men’s Day Football Tournament and Expo.
Helping Men and Boys Live Longer, Happier and Healthier Lives, the over-arching theme for IMD 2012, encourages organisers of IMD events to focus efforts on improving male life expectancy; improving boys’ education; challenging the tolerance of violence against men and boys; and promoting fathers as positive role models.
As the minister responsible for Gender and Community Affairs, I am truly pleased that the Department of Counselling Services’ Family Resource Centre, with the help of community sponsors, is able to coordinate events such as the 2nd IMD Football Tournament and Expo; an Evening of Supermen: Breaking Stereotypes; and a radio panel discussion to talk about the issues affecting our boys and men.
These IMD events provide us with an opportunity to engage in positive behaviour with our boys; highlight the men in our communities who are on the right path, and discuss the challenges that get in the way of some of our boys and men becoming the supermen that they were meant to be.
When we reflect upon our vibrant history, many of our forefathers travelled all over the world as seafarers, or to learn other trades or to gain an education. These men eventually returned home after many years and they were able to use the lessons they had learned for the betterment of our country. Our heritage is built on the sense of resilience and hope that characterised their lives. They embodied positive attributes such as honesty, integrity, kind heartedness and possessed clear vision and strong leadership skills. These Caymanians of yesteryear were strong, brave, intuitive men, many of whom I consider to be my own personal heroes.
Despite the positive path that many men in Cayman have travelled, we have unfortunately had to come to terms, especially in recent years, with a variety of negative social issues including violent crime that is affecting our young men. Thankfully, International Men’s Day is an opportunity to highlight men’s positive experiences with the broader and ultimate aim of promoting the basic humanitarian values that are necessary to create a healthy society in all areas and for all people.
I am proud that this year we have expanded our efforts to use International Men’s Day as a platform to celebrate men’s positive contributions to society, family, marriage, and child care, and to promote positive male role models – not only sportsmen or local celebrities – but also every day, working class men who are living decent, productive, and honest lives.
I believe that it is possible for men in our society to live honestly, to be dedicated workers, loving husbands and fathers and to be peaceful neighbours who demonstrate empathy to others in the communities around them.
We once created a community of togetherness, love and support, but maintaining this kind of society is something we must all work on together. It is my hope that on International Men’s Day the men of the Cayman Islands will make the commitment to do their part in order for all of our children to thrive and for the betterment of our country.
Wishing you all a Happy International Men’s Day.
Minister of Community Affairs, Gender and Housing