International Men’s Day is recognised annually on November 19. It’s a little-known fact that the observance is a home grown occasion at The University of the West Indies (The UWI), founded in 1999 by Historian, Dr. Jerome Teelucksingh, and subsequently adopted globally. Although International Men’s Day may be regarded as controversial due to some groups of men using it to assert male dominance, the University’s Institute of Gender and Development Studies (IGDS) is commemorating the day in service to gender justice.
With this in mind, the Institute will host a Vice-Chancellor’s Forum dedicated to International Men’s Day on Thursday, November 17, 2022. Themed Men Fostering Gender Justice, this virtual forum features a panel of expert gender and human rights activists who will examine gender policies and equality, recognising men who work for gender justice, those who are working to uphold positive models of fatherhood, men who are challenging the harmful norms of rigid gender roles and ideologies and those working to end gender-based violence. It will be broadcasted live via UWItv from 2:00 PM (Eastern Caribbean)/1:00 PM (Jamaica).
The expert discussants include Tyrone Buckmire, Co-Director, Legal Aid and Counselling Clinic and a Child Rights Activist who has been in the social work fraternity for the past 34 years; Stevan ‘Coach’ Lynn, Founder and CEO, Deeds Driven Dads Inc., The Caribbean Fatherhood Coalition and The Future Fathers Club, whose organisation supports a network of emerging fatherhood initiatives and NGOs through a host of services and training; Glenroy Murray, Executive Director J-FLAG, Law Tutor at The UWI Mona Campus and a well-known social justice and human rights advocate of LGBT rights, women’s rights and youth development in Jamaica and Harish Sadani, Gender Matters Consultant and Founder, Men Against Violence and Abuse (MAVA) and a leading gender rights activist who has pioneered efforts in India where he works with young men and boys to prevent violence on women.
The conversation will be moderated by Father Sean Major Campbell, from Christ Church, Vineyard Town, Jamaica, a Human Rights and LGBTI activist, and include remarks from Professor Aldrie Henry-Lee, The UWI’s Pro-Vice Chancellor, Graduate Studies and Research on behalf of Vice-Chancellor Professor Sir Hilary Beckles as well as Professor Diana J. Fox, newly appointed University Director of The UWI Institute for Gender and Development Studies.
Gender Justice is one of The UWI’s core values, articulated over the past five years in the regional University’s Triple A Strategy. Through the stewardship of the Vice-Chancellor, Beckles as The UWI’s Chief Gender Champion, The UWI and the IGDS are leading the way with The UWI Gender Policy. The Policy states, “The UWI Gender Policy affirms for all the staff, students and other stakeholders of The UWI Community, the fundamental principles of gender equality, gender diversity and non-discrimination based on gender and sexuality in all of the policies, programmes, practices and structures within the University and in its external relationships in the Caribbean region and beyond.”
Commenting on the planned commemoration, Professor Fox stated, “International Men’s Day at The UWI and specifically within the IGDS is an opportunity to learn about men’s allyship with women and non-binary persons to achieve equitable and just societies in our region and for men working toward gender justice to support one another. A gender-just society is one without gender-related asymmetries of access to or allocation of and control over status, power and material resources—this is what we strive for at the IGDS, and we welcome everyone to join us to learn about men who share our mission at the IGDS—and to get involved!”