When is International Mens Day?

Last year during a radio interview on International Womens Day (IWD), the host asked me ‘So when is it International Mens Day?’ It was a glib, throwaway comment (the answer is 19th November, by the way) but it serves to underline one of the biggest misconceptions about gender equality; it is not a zero sum game - I win: you lose.

Men have much to gain from gender equality. For example, many men experience work/family conflict, but neither society nor the workplace support this in the same way they support womens work/life balance. In her book The Unfinished Revolution, Kathleen Gerson notes that ‘Men are deeply wired for emotional connections to children, just like women’.

Additionally, there is considerable evidence that as men do more caregiving society benefits;
violence against women decreases while the health and well-being of men, women and children
improves. The values of IWD are universal: Justice, Dignity, Hope, Equality, Collaboration, Tenacity,
Appreciation, Respect, Empathy and Forgiveness, they have application to all humankind.

The other question which arises in conversations about IWD is ‘Why do we need a day to promote
womens issues? haven’t women got equality now?’ Well, not quite. While it is true that there is
significant legislation outlawing discrimination on a number of grounds, we all know that rules and regulations serve to make people compliant, they don’t necessarily change attitudes. If you need an example, just look at the painfully slow levels of progress for women in organisations.

However, IWD isn’t only about discrimination or lack of progress in the workplace. From the first
National Womens Day, observed in the United States in 1909 to the establishment of a Womens
Day by the Socialist International, meeting in Copenhagen in 1910, International Womens Day was and continues to be a powerful global platform for raising awareness about issues affecting women.

IWD also draws attention to the situations in which women exist - in Ireland and throughout the
world -such as trafficking, sexual and other types of exploitation, child and forced marriage and FGM. It also highlights issues such as the gender pensions gap, access to affordable and safe healthcare, the difficulties experienced by single mothers and women in lower socio-economic groups.

IWD encourages girls and young women in school to broaden their thinking and better understand
their potential. Many STEM initiatives leverage IWD to promote opportunities and inspire girls to
visualise themselves in these careers.

The day also recognises the achievements of many ordinary women, ‘accidental leaders’ who have played extraordinary roles in their communities and wider society, addressing issues from drugs to, homelessness, metal health and anti-social behaviours. 

Many organisations will schedule events to support the career development of women and
increasingly these events are also open to men.

International Women’s Day is a time to reflect on the progress made to date and to amplify the call for change. It celebrates the courage and determination of women who have engendered change and those who continue to advocate and educate in our society.

Improving the circumstances of women does not diminish mens situation. As the saying goes ‘A
rising tide lifts all boats’ and isn’t that a better outcome for everyone?

First Published in Chartered Accountants Ireland, AI Extra