Posted: Tuesday, November 19, 2019. 2:12 pm CST.
By BBN Staff: As Belizeans at home and abroad unite to celebrate the rich culture of the Garinagu people, there is another event being commemorated today that has gotten less attention over the years, International Men’s Day (IMD).
The day, which was coined in 1992, is observed annually on November 19, which unfortunately means it is overshadowed every year by Garifuna Settlement Day. IMD 2019 is being observed under the theme “Making a difference for men and boys,” and promotes the need to value men and take practical actions to improve their wellbeing.
In light of this year’s celebration taking a focus on boys, Breaking Belize News (BBN) spoke with Jermaine Crawford, coordinator of the Gateway Youth Center for his thoughts on the significance of IMD. Crawford, who has a history of working with at-risk youths in various capacities, said that celebrating men and manhood is important to any society but he understands that there are various factors that have led to the day being neglected in Belize.
“Look at most of the men in leadership in our country. What standards have we set as men? Look at the men in politics, men in governance, men in the church. How can we then, as men, advocate for manhood if we are not living up to it in our homes and in our communities,” Crawford said. “It is significant for us as men not just to take a stand for the day, but to take an introspective look at ourselves. What are our goals, what are our dreams, what are our talents, what is our purpose? As men, we need to get back to the drawing board.”
Crawford stressed that taking time to celebrate men and their value is paramount to changing the direction of Belize’s at-risk youth, who need to be given a sense of self-value.
BBN also spoke with Sandra Miranda, national president of the National Garifuna Council (NGC) about the fact that Garinagu men are also somewhat shortchanged due to the placement of International Men’s Day. Miranda said that the NGC will look at making some form of specific focus for Garinagu men at the next celebration of IMD, but noted that her message to Garinagu men for this year’s celebration is a call to action.
“I would say to them that they need to take on their responsibility to preserve our language and they need to be fathers to their children,” Miranda said.
Notably, there were no awareness campaigns or promotional items for IMD in Belize, unlike its counterpart International Women’s Day, which saw no shortage of exposure. One such example is the statement from the Minister of Human Development, Social Transformation and Poverty Alleviation on the ministry’s official website in honor of International Women’s Day. As of today, no such statement has been issued for International Men’s Day.
BBN also notes that many of the Belizeans contacted while conducting research for this article did not even know that IMD exists. The disregard for IMD and other male-focused events like Father’s Day could serve as an indicator that more needs to be done to highlight men and boys in Belize.
BBN takes this time to wish all men, particularly Belizean men and boys, a Happy International Men’s Day!
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