International Women’s Day is a great occasion to celebrate some of the important contribution that women have made to humanity. It’s also a great time to demonstrate that in many areas, women still do not have equality. 19th November is International Men’s Day. It has come in for criticism based on the assumption that because men generally have more privilege than women, there is no need for it. However, campaigners feel it is the perfect opportunity to discuss and engage on the unique difficulties of being male and demonstrate that men face problems every day.
One of biggest areas on which IMD focuses is the large and shocking number of male suicides. Every year in the western world, over ¾ of people who take their lives is a man. Both the number and the proportion is growing and has been since the economic downturn of 2008. It is such a problem that there are dedicated charities to tackling this specific problem. CALM is the UK’s only dedicated mental health charity with a mission to tackle this critical problem. Thanks to CALM working in association with others, people are waking up to this problem and men are becoming more open about their anxieties and mental health issues.
It is widely recognised that boys and men are expected to attempt to succeed at everything they do. There are social punishments for men of low social status and earning ability that campaigners feel do not apply to women (while acknowledging that women have similar yet different expectations). This pressure begins at school and carries on through life. One major issue of IMD is that school standards are dropping for boys. It has been argued in some places that the schooling system does not work for boys and that too many are falling behind. Engaging and encouraging girls need not mean neglecting the needs of boys.
Although this issue varies by country (and is much higher in development countries), around 85-90% of workplace deaths are men. This is a shocking statistic with a multitude of explanations. Men are expected to take more risks and, indeed, to enter into dangerous and dirty jobs where these are the only jobs that exist (mining, drilling, construction). These dangerous job roles put men at risk of career-ending injuries or death.
Domestic Violence and Sexual Assault
Recognising that women make up the majority victims of these cases, male victims often feel marginalised. In some cases, they feel they are ridiculed and their reports not taken seriously regardless of whether the perpetrator or their partner is male or female. IMD provides a space for male victims of these intimate crimes to feel more comfortable and at ease in coming forward to report such crimes. Campaigners say there are too few domestic violence shelters for men.
Another major issue IMD seeks to address is highlighting homelessness. It is a major problem in itself, but they attempt to draw attention to the fact that men are more likely to be homeless than a woman. Shockingly, a report as recently as 2015 demonstrated that in the UK, 71% of the homeless population were men. Homeless men are also far more likely to use drugs or have a substance abuse problem or addiction than homeless women.
Male Life Expectancy
There are a number of reasons for this, but globally men live five years less than women live. In the western world, the gap is shorter, calculated at around 12 months. Suicide is just one issue that affects these statistics. Some other issues we have already discussed here – workplace deaths for example. Being homeless and the health problems associated with that lowers life expectancy too.