Wednesday November 19, 2014 was International Men’s Day and, for the third consecutive year, Saint Lucia joined the rest of the world in commemorating the event. The observance, which originated in Trinidad and Tobago in 1999, has received much support from men’s groups around the world. The aim is to help make life better, not just for grown men but for young boys alike. This year’s theme: “Keeping Men and Boys Safe”.
The objectives of International Men’s Day include a focus on men’s and boys’ health, improving gender relations, promoting gender equality positive male role models. It is an occasion for men to highlight discrimination against them and to celebrate their achievements and contributions, in particular their contributions to community, family, marriage and child care.
In celebration of this year’s Men’s Day, the Division of Gender Relations, in collaboration with the IMD Planning Committee, organized a number of events which began with an Ecumenical Service at the Minor Basilica of the Immaculate Conception on Monday November 17 and culminated with a Father and Son Cricket Competition on Friday November 21. On the designated day itself, November 19, a symposium was held at the auditorium of the Wellness Centre on the Millennium Highway entitled “Celebration of Men”. The theme for the initiative was “Appreciating Men’s Leadership and Sacrifice for Family and Country”.
The event was truly a men’s affair, as only six women were in attendance on the day including the Minister for Health, Wellness, Human Services and Gender Relations, Honorable Alvina Reynolds. Of those in attendance were Deputy Fire Chief, Lambert Charles and Station Officer Bernard Prospere, students and teachers of the Clendon Mason Memorial, George Charles, Sir Ira Simmons and Ciceron Secondary Schools, along with members and staff of the Crisis Centre, and wards and facilitators from the Boys’ Training Centre.
As one of the presenters on the day, the health minister addressed the gathering, highlighting the importance of men and their roles in the family and society.
“Men make sacrifices and lead every day, in their various roles as fathers, husbands, and community and nation builders.”
She emphasized the importance of men being more aware and responsible for the state of their health.
“My ministry has been actively working to develop and implement programmes specifically geared to help men take control of their health.”
Minister Reynolds also focused her short speech on the adolescent students who made up the majority in the audience, underlining the many challenges that they are faced with, including substance abuse, and underscored the escalating issue of alcohol consumption by our youth and the new trend of alcohol sponsorship in sports, and also domestic abuse including sexual abuse.
Pastor Sherwin Griffith delivered the key note address and he too focused his speech on the students present, imploring them to put God first in their lives, to learn to love and appreciate themselves in order to be fruitful in life and to enjoy life holistically.
The event concluded with the launch of the Male Behavioral Change Programme. The programme, organized by the Department of Gender Relations, encompasses a six month period of informative, developmental and recreational activities which will seek to educate men on the importance of their roles in the home and to encourage them to be more responsible and aware of the state of their well-being. The programme will be sponsored by UNICEF and organizers are hoping that men of all ages can come be a part of the initiative along with their sons. Information on the activities will be issued across all forms of media.