Today is one of the many few days that we (I mean as menfolk) get to look back and appreciate how far the world has come in recognising and promoting better views on the roles of men and women. Since the inaugural celebration of the International Men’s Day in 1992, a great awareness has pervaded the global environment, especially considering critical changes in the workplace and outside of it, and in fact looking at gender relations in general.

Interestingly, because men and the male gender have often been on the receiving end of hard criticisms namely of the chauvinistic nature, being “lenient” or “friendly” with the gender “other” tends to be viewed sometimes as cheap chivalry or as weakness. But, over these few decades, there have been men who have charted the course of gender balancing and who have taken it upon themselves not to look back or relent in keeping the flag of gender ambassadorship flying.

Friends, think of men such as Barack Hussein Obama, Iris Bohnet, Heidi Hartmann, Dillon Black, among other men playing active roles in the context of gender works, and the picture of the female gender becomes more adorable than the feelings of antagonistic “otherness” that sometimes accompanies the social relations between the man and the woman, or in my own immediate experience, the African man and his woman.

In essence, it worthwhile to celebrate on a day such as this, men who have etched the “Six Pillars of International Men’s Day” on their mind and consciousness, like a tattoo. The International  Men’s Day celebrates men’s and boys’ health, the improvement of gender relations, the promotion of gender equality , highlighting discrimination against men, and promoting male role models. Today is also better appreciated as an occasion to celebrate boys and men’s achievements and contributions, in particular for their contributions to community, family, marriage, and child care.

In midst of this annual global celebration of men and boys, we must not lose sight of the greater objective of the Day, which is to promote basic humanitarian values. And it is here that I feel very delighted to point out that, at AWLO (which stands for African Women in Leadership Organisation), which I am privileged to be the founder, we have also come a very long way to demonstrate and actualise the spirit of the “Six Pillars” of the International Men’s Day. With our presence in many countries of the world, including the United States of America, Canada, Nigeria, Zimbabwe, Cameroon, Kenya among other countries, we have been able to reach out to African and African American women across the social, educational, economic and religious divides, among other divides. And to think that this trail is spearheaded by a man, my humble self, offers a great challenge to other men to join our moving train.

At AWLO, for instance, through our #heforshe movement, we have been able to bridge the gender gap, creating in the process a huge campaign for gender parity. Men and women are working together seamlessly in pursuit of a common course. Hence, the 2019 theme for the International Men’s Day, which is “Making a Difference for Men and Boys”, is a timely reminder and good clarion call for men across the world to embrace this gender movement by reaching out to more women in the boardroom, the classroom and the many other rooms, to build a great and more socially conducive world for men and women to live in and work together in cooperation. Also, men must see more reasons to be great gender ambassadors to boys and young male adults by offering the relevant mentoring which is needful as they grow into mature men themselves.

 

In the light of these issues, which are fast gaining more social and ideological currency, I  wish to congratulate men across the globe for facilitating a new era of men mentoring men. I think is, therefore, on this note that I like to wish everyone a happy International Men’s Day 2019.