International Men’s Day – why we should stop saying ‘man up’
This post was created by Charlotte Dickenson, HR Project Analyst.
Did you know 19 November is International Men’s Day? Every year its profile is growing, and provides an opportunity for us to focus on improving gender relations, promoting gender equality, and shine a light on men’s and boy’s health. The theme for this years’ International Men’s Day is ‘Stop Male Suicide’.
Suicide amongst men is a serious problem, globally and in the UK. It has been referred to as a ‘silent epidemic’ as the figures around male suicide are so high, and because nobody is talking about it. In every country in the world except China, the suicide rate amongst men is higher than women. In the UK and Ireland, suicide is the leading cause of death in men aged 20 – 49, and the male suicide is more than three times higher than the female rate.
On 7 November, I went to the book launch of ‘Gender Balance – When Men Step Up’. James Taylor, CEO Healthcare for Sodexo UK & Ireland and executive sponsor of our gender workstream, spoke as part of a panel about why gender balance was important to them.
— Sodexo UK & Ireland (@SodexoUK_IRE) November 7, 2016
Diverse and gender balanced teams have proven to be better for business, but they are also better for the health and wellbeing of the people within those teams. Gender balanced teams can provide a safer space for men to show vulnerability. Being open about vulnerability is really important, it is admitting when work is stressful and when we need help, and it is asking for a better balance between work and life.
Creating a gender balanced culture is not just about men and women coming together to help women. We all need to come together and recognise that sexism isn’t just something that men do to women. Women can be sexist to other women, and men and women can be sexist towards men. When someone says ‘man-up’, they are saying that men are supposed to be strong and should not show their feelings. Whether it is ‘banter’ or discomfort at men showing emotion, making it uncomfortable for men to talk about their feelings is having a severe impact on the health and wellbeing of men around the world.
Talking about mental health and suicide is still something we are getting used to in the British ‘stiff-upper lip’ society. But when suicide kills three times more people than road traffic accidents, we need to learn to talk about suicide, now.
This year for International Men’s Day, let’s stop saying ‘man-up’ and start saying ‘open-up’ instead.
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