International Men’s Day, 2008 – India
– Uma Challa
The inseparability of the male and female entities in the Universe was recognized by Indians as early as the Vedic times. This beautiful sentiment is manifested through the representation of Goddess Parvathi (Uma) and Lord Siva (Maheswara), known as “the parents of the Universe”, as UmaMaheswara or Ardhanareeswara (half-man, half-woman). This representation indicates that while both the female and male forms have their own individual identities and strengths, they are still interdependent. They complement each other and, it is only by combining their individual strengths that they are able to create and nurture life in the Universe. This divine couple is considered by Indians as an example to be emulated by all human beings.
Import of Western thought on individualism over the last few centuries has led to the erosion of many wonderful Indian values, including the one of male-female unity. Equating individualism with independence has caused many cracks in the much-envied Indian family structure. Radical feminist ideas, which are based on anti-male, anti-family ideologies, have resulted in a gender war. Consequently, divorce rates, numbers of fatherless children, violence against men and numbers of men committing suicides are all on the rise. The time has come to remind ourselves of our pride-worthy Indian values and to restore stability in the society by promoting harmony between men and women.
It is well known that International Women’s Day is celebrated worldwide on 8 March. Dedicating a special day for women is indeed a great way to celebrate womanhood and all the contributions of women, both within and outside the family.
By the same token, Save Indian Family Foundation (SIFF) and its sibling organizations adopted 19 November as International Men’s Day in the year 2007 to recognize and honor men; our fathers, brothers, partners, sons, male friends and colleagues; for the numerous services they render and the innumerable sacrifices they make to ensure the health and well-being of the family and the society.
SIFF also launched an International campaign to build a consensus on the celebration of International Men’s Day across the world. To our great delight, Mr. Warwick Marsh of the Fatherhood Foundation in Australia responded to our campaign and, thanks to his ceaseless efforts, Australia will be joining hands with India and celebrating its first International Men’s Day on 19 November 2008.
On International Men’s Day 2008, our sentiments will be echoed in cities across India including Delhi, Mumbai, Kolkata, Chennai, Nagpur, Lucknow, Bangalore and Hyderabad through the activities of various local chapters and organizations working towards family harmony and gender equality.
On this occasion, SIFF would also like to review the present status of men in the Indian society and highlight the need to accord men the privileges and protections that they rightly deserve as fellow humans. We will be reiterating our demand for a “Ministry for Men’s Welfare”, in addition to gender-neutral legal provisions and policies that ensure women and men their rightful, honorable place within and outside the home.