Madame Speaker,
As Minister with portfolio responsibility for Gender Affairs, I rise in this Honourable House to acknowledge the commemoration of International Men’s Day (IMD), which is celebrated annually on November 19.

International Men’s Day was first celebrated in Trinidad and Tobago and is now celebrated in other countries such as Canada, the UK, Singapore, USA, Australia, Haiti, India.

As a symbolic show of support, I ask that each member wears their white ribbon throughout this week.

This is a time when we pause to recognise and honour the men and boys in our society. We celebrate fatherhood, paternal bonds and the efforts of male parents towards their family and our society. It is important to recall and recognise the endless efforts, initiatives and contributions of our Jamaican men and boys.

IMD is a day to focus on men’s health, improving gender relations, promoting gender equality and highlighting positive male role models in the society. Additionally, it provides an opportunity for men and boys to celebrate their achievements and contribution to community and national development.

Recall the broad objectives of International Men’s Day which were ratified in 2009:
1. To promote positive male role models; not just movie stars and sportsmen but every-day, working class men who are living decent, honest lives.
2. To celebrate men’s positive contributions to society, community, family, marriage, child care, and to the environment.
3. To focus on men’s health and wellbeing; social, emotional support, physical and spiritual.
4. To highlight discrimination against men; in areas of social services, social attitudes and expectations, and law.
5. To improve gender relations and promote gender equality.
6. To create a safer, better world; where people can live free from harm and grow to reach their full potential.

It has been customary for the International Men’s Day theme each year to take its cue from one of these six pillars which support the observation of the Day. And so this year our local theme is ‘A Man’s Health is a Man’s Wealth: Men and Healthy Lifestyle Practices during the Pandemic’. It is drawn from the pillar which puts focus on men’s health and wellbeing; social, emotional support, the physical and spiritual and was conceptualised to encourage our men to continue the fight to reduce the spread of COVID-19 and to sensitise our men and boys on ways to
improve their mental and physical health.

I know that our men, ever so often, take their physical and mental health for granted, due to cultural and social norms that say “Men must be tough”, “Men don’t need counselling” or the favourite “Men don’t need to go to the doctor, just drink some tea”, but Madame Speaker, I want to use this opportunity to encourage our men and boys to take their physical and mental health seriously.

Your health is your wealth! Do your routine checkups and make healthy lifestyle choices!

Madame Speaker, I remain committed to support men and boys in Jamaica and also within the Diaspora. The Special Service Desk for Men, in the Bureau of Gender Affairs, was designed to address issues affecting our
men and boys in Jamaica.

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