On the one hand, November is dedicated to men and their fight against cancer, but on the other it is also the time to focus on tackling the raging issue of domestic violence
What makes you a father is not the ability to make a child, it is the courage to raise one — Barack Obama
The month of November is dedicated to men. One could see them all through the month proudly sporting their ‘mos’ to raise the much-required funds to tackle prostate cancer, testicular cancer and mental health and for suicide prevention in men. The date 19 November is International Men’s Day and interestingly the other day observed in November is White Ribbon Day on 23 November. Which makes November the opportune time for men to take a stand against violence towards women and be positive male role models in the community. Statistics show that violence against women is a vicious cycle and young lads growing up abusive homes, think ‘it is ok’ to be aggressive towards women. The theme for this year’s International Men’s Day is ‘positive male role models’. And one can argue without a shadow of a doubt the lasting effect positive male role models can have on children during their ‘growing up’ years.
UIA’s Women’s Steering Committee planned an event that combined the observation of these two very vital and interlinked days. The agenda for the morning was the celebration of work men do in the community, calling upon men to support the need to end of violence against women, promote gender equality and hence create a safer world for everyone. Chairperson of the steering committee Sue Advani and her dedicated team organised a very informative session on 18 November at the Haveli Function Centre in Blacktown. Among others the event was attended by, Julia Finn, MP for Granville, Amar Singh, White Ribbon ambassador, Durga Owen, representing Michelle Rowland, federal MP from Greenway and Babu Varghese, Vice President of UIA. Sunila Kotwal, White Ribbon Diversity and Inclusion manager spoke about the White Ribbon oath and the other initiatives like White Rakhi, White Turban, etc.
International Men’s Day strives to address the various issues that men face. The main points include focus on men’s and boy’s health, improving gender relations, promoting gender equality and highlighting positive male role models. It also includes their shorter life expectancy and the fact that there are more male workplace deaths than female. It is also true that there are men who are victims of sexual abuse, sexual exploitation and domestic violence. Men also face a number of challenges as parents, especially as single parents or those who do not have an amicable or healthy relationship with the mother of their children.
Ron Mitchell from the White Ribbon Fatherhood Program spoke about the importance of empowering men and redefining masculinity through the program. A lot of harm has been caused by the negative portrayal of men in the especially in the media. This is not limited to the male stereotypes used by some well-known brands in their advertisements. White Ribbon believes that engaged fathers not only become positive role models and have happy and loving families, but they also take up leadership roles to help prevent men’s violence against women. He said that it is important to challenge stereotypes, for research shows that men engaged in the caregiving for young children are less likely to engage in violence.
Dr Manish Patel, Clinical Professor, Faculty of Health Sciences, Macquarie University spoke about prostate cancer and measures that can be taken to minimise its risks. Dr Ramanathan Ganapathy, Clinical Director and Medical Superintendent of Blacktown/Mt Druitt Mental Health Services, spoke about how the high rate of suicides in men, as they do not talk about their troubles, their fears, their insecurities and their frustrations. Harinder Kaur from Harman Foundation highlighted the work done by the foundation in supporting and rehabilitating vulnerable and abused women from the sub-continent.
As men and women of a dynamic community, let us support each other and ensure that the men and women in our lives are loved, protected, respected and celebrated. And let us not do it on one specific day each year, let us do it each second of each minute of each hour of each day, year after year.