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November 14, 2012
Star Features


 

Helping men and boys live longer, happier, healthier lives

Jamaican deejay Mr Vegas threw Twitter tantrums and publicised embarrassing details of his private affairs in a pitiful public venting that named and shamed his ex-spouse. Nobody died, but people were hurt, and people have been hurt. Haitian Joseph Kernizan shot and killed his former spouse Tracy Bennett, along with her partner deejay Captain Barkey, then committed suicide a few days later.

These are just two examples of the less-than-ideal ways that Caribbean men deal with hurt and anger. And guess what? There are always children and extended families caught in the middle. I think that's cause for concern. How about you? Wouldn't you agree with me, then, that it would certainly serve society well, to pay more serious attention to not only the physical, but also mental and emotional health of our men and boys?

Whether you agree with me or not, I think this is a good time to officially inform or remind you that November 19 is International Men's Day (IMD). Yes; whether you're an old man, young man or middle-aged or whether you're still a boy of any age, next Monday is a day dedicated to focusing on you. Yes, it's a time to acknowledge our successes and our failings, and give sensitive focus to our views and visions as males.

So mark the date and remember the day. And don't give me any lame excuses this year as to why you don't know about it. Listen nuh, man; people often don't know about something simply because they really don't care about it - and vice versa. That's just how life is. But hear me, people; we should care - and know. Men's issues are important, too. And there are some good men out there who can, and should, be celebrated as positive male role models. Also, a lot of inspiring work is happening, though much more still needs to happen, towards engaging men and boys in critical thinking and transformative action around gender and masculinity. Both women and men need to really start caring more about the health and well-being, and specific needs and concerns of men and boys.

global attention

These are the issues and ideas underpinning the theme for International Men's Day 2012, which is 'Helping Men and Boys Live Longer, Happier, Healthier Lives'. According to a website dedicated to promoting global attention to the day, the five target areas nominated by IMD founder Dr Jerome Teelucksingh are: 1. improving male life expectancy; 2. helping men get help; 3. improving boys' education; 4. tackling tolerance of violence against men and boys, and 5. promoting fathers and positive male role models.

World Health Organisation figures show that every year, more than half a million people die from violence, and 83 per cent of them are men and boys, and that a similar proportion of the global burden of disease (ill-health, disability or early death) is borne by boys and men.

People, I'm taking the day seriously, and I'm trying to practise what I preach. So an important medical procedure called a colonoscopy is actually among the things I'll be personally doing to mark the day. What will you do?

Whoever you are, woman or girl, boy or man, you can help to make this IMD more than just another occasion for hallow announcements and empty symbolism. How? Do something. Do something tangible to help heal a hurting man or boy. And help us continue highlighting and promoting positive masculinity where it exists. In the meantime, you can help me tweet it and Facebook it and mek nuff noise about it.

You can also get more information on masculinity issues and activities in the region at www.cariman.org or link me at box-mi-back@hotmail.com.

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