International Men’s Day – 2016

Captions: Uma Challa

Click HERE for more posters!


An Open Letter to Minister of Health and Family Welfare, India.

Dear Shri Jagat Prakash Nadda,

I am writing as a responsible citizen of India, who cares about the health, well-being and safety of men, women and children.

As you may be aware, 19 November is International Men’s Day, and it is being celebrated in over 80 countries in the world this year with the theme “Make a difference for men and boys”.

On this occasion, I would like to specifically draw your attention towards the health and well-being of men and boys.

It is important to remember that everyday, men make many sacrifices to protect and provide for their families, and thereby make many positive contributions to the community, society, family, marriage, child care and the environment.

  • These men include sanitation workers, construction workers, chemical and gas factory workers, mechanics and miners who routinely suffer from chronic occupational health issues and often die before they reach the age of 60.
  • They include soldiers, firefighters, land mine removers, deep sea fishermen, electric linemen, house painters and glass cleaners who risk their lives everyday.
  • They include farmers, weavers, tea sellers, drivers, paperboys, mailmen and watchmen, who render their services, often without receiving a word of recognition or gratitude.
  • They include teachers, doctors, scientists, engineers, entrepreneurs and public servants, who help improve the quality of life for everyone in the society.
  • They include fathers, grandfathers, brothers, husbands, friends and colleagues who stand by us, inspire us, make us laugh and enrich our lives.
  • They include men in all walks of life who live honest, decent lives and help keep the wheels of progress and hope turning.

However, men’s health, both physical and emotional, is one of the areas which is seriously neglected in India. Even the most recent National Health and Family Survey of 2015, only addresses maternal health and child health, while examining the key indicators of health and family welfare. It refers to men only in the context of family planning and as to how they can contribute to the health and welfare of women and children.

In India, a lot of health problems in men remain poorly diagnosed or left undiagnosed. Male-specific health problems also tend to be more fatal. For example, as against 5.37 lakh women, only 4.77 lakh men were diagnosed with cancer in India in 2012.  In the same year, 3.26 lakh women and 3.56 lakh men, i.e. 30,000 more men compared to women, died of cancer (Ref 2).

A recent study (Ref 1) reports that the incidence of prostate cancer among Indian males is “constantly and rapidly increasing in all the most recent Population Based Cancer Registries (PBCRs)”, and “the cancer projection data shows that the number of cases will become doubled by 2020.” The study also states that “Given the current age-specific incidence, morbidity, and mortality rates of prostate cancer, this disease will become a far greater public health problem in the future”.

While the top five cancers that claim men’s lives in general are lip/oral cavity, lung, stomach, colorectum and the pharynx (Ref 2), this recent study (Ref 1) shows that prostate is “the second leading site of cancer among males in large Indian cities like Delhi, Kolkatta, Pune and Thiruvananthapuram, the third leading site of cancer in cities like Bangalore and Mumbai and it is among the top ten leading sites of cancers in the rest of the population based cancer registries (PBCRs) of India”.

Male-specific health issues are often blamed on negligence of men themselves. No effort is made by the Government on spreading awareness about or for preventing and controlling male-specific illnesses, diseases and disorders. As a citizen, a voter and a taxpayer of this country, I believe that the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare must

  1. acknowledge the place and the value of men in the family.
  2. include men’s health in the National Health and Family Survey of India.
  3. spend time and resources to spread awareness about stress and depression, male specific cancers, heart disease and neurodegenerative diseases which are responsible for reduced quality of life and premature mortality among men.
  4. allocate resources to support research on male-specific disorders, diseases and illnesses – both physical and psychological, and to help find affordable remedies and cures for the same.

On the occasion of International Men’s Day (19 November), I request you to focus your attention on the above issues , and help make a difference for men and boys.

Thank you,

Uma Challa
Author, Hyderabad




International Men’s Day – 2010



All India Men’s Welfare Association (AIMWA)

International Men’s Day (IMD) is celebrated on 19th November the world over.

This year, on the occasion of IMD, AIMWA is felicitating three positive male role models namely, Dr. Viswanath Gogte, Sri. A.V. Gurunadh and Sri. Gangadhara Sastry for their extraordinary contributions to academic, civic and spiritual education, respectively. (Click here for invitation!)

Why celebrate Men’s Day?

In the recent years, it has become common practice to neglect, ill-treat and demean men in the society.  Male bashing (both physical and verbal) and portrayal of men as villains, idiots and inferior creatures is seen as an innocuous way of increasing profits of media houses and other businesses. Discrimination of men under law and violation of their human rights have become synonymous with empowering and protecting women.

Undermining the positive contributions of majority of men and exaggerating the misdeeds of a few has serious impact on the psyche of men and the self-image of young men and boys. Discrimination against men in areas of social services, social attitudes, social expectations and law is very demoralizing to the common men who lead decent, honest lives.

International men’s day is about celebrating and honoring men in our lives for all the contributions, services and sacrifices they make for the well-being of the family and society.  It is an opportunity to revive respect towards men and improve gender relations. It is an occasion to promote positive male role models, to reinforce the self-esteem and pride of young men and boys about being male. It is a day to remind everyone of the fact that men are human too and that they desire and deserve love, care and respect just as much as women do.

In an attempt to shed light on the various issues affecting men, All India Men’s Welfare Association (AIMWA) is organizing a conference where experts in various fields will share their observations and recommendations. (See invitation for details!)

  • Physical Health of men – Dr. Sudhir, BHMS, Kakinada

The National Family Health Survey does not consider men’s health important – enormous focus on women and children, and the mention of men only in relation to how they should contribute to the health and welfare of women and children, clearly indicates the apathy of the Government towards men’s health. No funds are allocated to conduct research on or develop remedies for diseases specific to men such as prostate or testicular cancers.  Since men define their lives largely by their professions and protecting and providing for their families, they tend to ignore illnesses, lead less healthy lifestyles than women, miss getting medical attention in time, and as other stresses in life increase, the diseases catch up with them. Men are more likely to die from heart disease, prostate cancer, stroke, infectious diseases, accidents and suicide. Males have a higher overall mortality rate than females at all ages (roughly 1.6 times greater). It is necessary to understand the genetic, environmental or age related illnesses which can affect men, and provide them with insurance to get the right kind of medical attention at the appropriate time.

  • Men as protectors – Sri. A.B. Pratap Reddy, A.P. Police Department, Hyderabad

Men as individuals and as a group are expected to protect not just their own respective families, but also, all women and children in the society. Right from the age of 7, a boy is trained to be an “unpaid bodyguard” to girls and women. Accordingly, anytime a girl or woman is in distress, one always sees men rushing to her rescue. The fire department, police, armed forces and all other security forces are filled with men. Even in forces where women are recruited, combat and other risky operations are considered the exclusive job of men. The country pays tributes once a year to all the fallen heroes who sacrificed their lives for the country. We also need to remember that the so-called protector too needs certain kinds of protection and support in order to perform his job efficiently on a daily basis. Government should pay close attention to improving working conditions, salaries, housing and professional development opportunities for men in uniform.

  • Men as providers – Sri. Manoj David, President, National Litigant Bench, Chennai

Men and boys are always expected to be and conditioned to become protectors and providers. Even though more women are entering the job market and defying their traditional roles within the family and the society, resulting in reduced employment opportunities for men, the society refuses to free men of their traditional duties of protecting and providing for women, children and the aged. Men who cannot provide for the family are considered incapable, unmanly and unfit for marriage and having children. So, men often undertake some of the most risky and challenging jobs in the society and put their lives at stake just to be a provider.  Financial hardships drive thousands of farmers, artisans and providers of crucial services to commit suicide. Treating men as ATMs and expendable commodities is nothing but abuse of their human rights, which must be opposed by individuals, society and Government.

  • Emotional Health of men – Dr. Praveen Chinta, MBBS, DPM, MRCP, Hyderabad

Boys are discouraged from expressing their pain and feelings from the age of 7-8 yrs. This leads to fear of self-expression and even numbness to abuse for the rest of their lives. Men find emotional confrontations extremely painful when they grow up as they are no longer good at articulating their emotions. A lot of men take refuge in addictions like smoking or drinking to combat stress. Most men enduring emotional turmoil in marriage contemplate suicide and a substantial percentage of them (around 56,000 a year) actually commit suicide. Twice as many married men, compared to married women, commit suicide every year. Scientific research is necessary to understand the emotional health issues of men, especially the Indian male. There is a need for psychiatrists and psychologists to specifically focus on issues pertaining to men.

  • Men in old age – Smt. Kamakshi, Secy. Senior Citizens Forum, Hyderabad

While men in the “productive” age bracket are subject to the pressures of professional competition, family issues and financial problems, one expects that they would be relatively stress-free during their post-retirement years. However, due to the breakdown of the joint family system, and the advent of nuclear family and individualistic culture, more and more aged men are suffering from anxiety, loneliness, financial hardships and despair.  Many aged men also suffer neglect and abuse in their homes, but they appear to be better adjusted than women in similar situations, because men in general are not expressive about their emotions.  Overemphasis on professional and family responsibilities at the expense of their own health, and the ensuing stress could be the reasons why life expectancy of men is much lesser than that of women. As the physical and emotional health of aged men depends, to a large extent, on their lifestyles during their younger years, men need to maintain a healthy lifestyle so that they are more resilient and capable of coping with the challenges posed by age and age-related diseases and disabilities.

  • Men and anti-male laws – Smt. Rama Subhadra, Mahila Satta Legal Cell, Hyderabad

Many laws have been made in the last 60 years in the name of protecting women within and outside the home. These so-called pro-women laws such as IPC Section 498A, Domestic Violence Act, adultery laws, laws against rape and sexual harassment and family laws (divorce, maintenance and child custody) aggravate problems rather than mitigate them. These discriminatory laws are anti-male and anti-family, and serve as weapons that promote family destruction and large scale human rights abuses against men, women and children. They are tools of blackmail and extortion in the hands of unscrupulous women, law enforcement personnel, lawyers and judiciary. There is an urgent need to eliminate discrimination against men under law, make all civil and criminal laws equally applicable to men and women, and also to ensure that strict penalties are imposed on those who misuse the laws.

  • Respecting male sexuality – Smt. Uma Challa, President, All India Men’s Welfare Association, Hyderabad

Sexual arousal is easily discernible in men, whereas it is not obvious in women. As a result, men constantly face the allegation of being obsessed with sex. It is also believed that men always indulge in sex voluntarily, whereas women are thought to take part in sex either to fulfill the sexual or emotional needs of men or because they are forced to do so by men against their will. Male sexuality is often attacked to break a man down emotionally. Sexual exploitation and rape of men/boys by women is not acknowledged as an offense, and in fact it is considered as a non-existent problem. Today, male sexuality is ridiculed, insulted, misunderstood, undermined, disregarded, criminalized and everything but respected. Proper awareness on male sexuality is very important for both men and women. Provisions and laws for protection against sexual assault and abuse are as necessary for men as they are for women.