Tag Archives: international mens day

Jo Swinson takes part in International Men’s Day debate

Yesterday, MPs debated International Men’s Day. Our participant in that debate was Jo Swinson. She would not ever be so shameless as to  give  a massive plug for her book, Equal Power, which is due out in February, but she used a lot of her speech to talk about how gender equality benefits both men and women. Men face pressures from our unequal world, she said, in mental health, employment, expectations of being the bread winner, of not showing emotion. She talked about the importance of both parents’ roles in children’s lives.

Here is her speech:

It is a pleasure to serve under your chairmanship for this important debate, Mr Austin. I congratulate the hon. Member for Stafford (Jeremy Lefroy) on introducing it and all Members who supported the subject being heard. It is the first time during which I have been an MP that we have had a debate on International Men’s Day. I was not in Parliament for the previous two occasions, so I am delighted to be able to take part. I hope this debate will become a firm annual fixture in the Commons, perhaps even taking place in the main Chamber in future years. These issues are important and deserve to be properly explored.

Inequality is endemic right across society. The stereotypes, assumptions and rigid constraints on behaviour affect both men and women, girls and boys, but our focus is often on how women and girls lose out from gender inequality. It is right that we explore those issues, but as we have already heard and will explore in the debate, it is absolutely the case that men and boys are also negatively affected by gender inequality. That is why gender equality is good for everyone. Sometimes in the media these issues are portrayed as men pitted against women, as if there is some battle of the sexes going on. In fact a world that is more gender equal would be good for everyone, and it is one that we should be able to join forces to create.

Health care, particularly mental health for men and boys, is a huge issue. Such problems can start very early on. In the opening speech, we heard statistics about how men are more likely to commit suicide, and indeed that is the biggest cause of death for men under the age of 45. That prompts us as a society to take a step back and consider what services we provide for men who find themselves in trouble. There is also an element of stigma, which we are starting to break down. In recent years there has been a welcome move towards talking more openly about mental health, and I know that hon. Members from across the House have spoken movingly in the Chamber about their own battles with mental health problems. That is to be welcomed, but no one would suggest that we are there yet when it comes to breaking down that stigma.

Importantly, we must also ensure that the services are there. For too long, mental health has been the Cinderella of the health service. It should be given parity with physical health problems, but mental health provision for individuals who need that support does not yet exist in our communities. Given that it is more difficult for men to seek help in the first place, if those support services are not there when they do, that is a double whammy.

In my constituency I am aware of an interesting project that has been set up specifically to help men with mental health difficulties. It is called Brothers in Arms, and when I spoke to its founders I was interested to hear their concern that not enough specialist services cater specifically for men and recognise some of the difficulties that men might have in coming forward. Such organisations—I know there are many others, particularly south of the border—and many strong campaigners and advocates are raising these issues and putting them on the agenda, but we must ensure that that is supported and progress accelerated.

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Daily View 2×2: 19 November 2009

Good morning, and welcome to Daily View. Today, in 1990, Milli Vanilli were stripped of their Grammy. It’s the birthday of American President and pizza-loving cat James Garfield.

Today is also both International Men’s Day and International Toilet Day.

2 Must-Read Blog Posts

What are other Liberal Democrat bloggers saying? Here’s are two posts that have caught the eye from the Liberal Democrat Blogs aggregator:

Spotted any other great posts in the last day from blogs that aren’t on the aggregator? Do post up a comment sharing them with us all.

2 Big Stories

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