NIA CHARLESTOWN NEVIS (November 19, 2020) — The following is an address by Hon. Hazel Bandy-Williams, Junior Minister of Health and Gender Affairs in the Nevis Island Administration (NIA) on the occasion of International Men’s Day 2020.
Today is an important day when we focus our attention, our energies, our appreciation and indeed our expectations on the males of our society. Today we celebrate International Men’s Day, recognized each year on the 19th of November. This year’s theme, “Family, Friendship, Health: Making a Positive Difference to the Well-Being of Men and Boys” frames our focus as we recognize International Men’s Day and Men’s Month 2020.
In recent years, we have found cause for concern in the general direction of our males as it relates to absentee-fatherhood, various forms of abuse, crime and violent behaviours. However, what we are proud of and are encouraged by, today, is that this by no means represents the entirety of our male population. Indeed, we have many men of Honour, Principle and Industry – fathers, uncles, sons, brothers, neighbours, teachers, business owners – who are all brilliant stars in our communities.
They inspire hope in times of challenge and, for certain, we have had our full share of challenges this year. We are fortunate enough to witness our men leading the charge in the response to the Covid-19 pandemic by encouraging families during times of lockdown, finding and establishing innovative streams of income to support their homes and protecting our communities. This was done, of course with women working alongside them but what is important to highlight, is that our men were never missing in action. They stood up, met the difficulties, and did their part.
Men of St. Kitts and Nevis continue to be providers, leaders, protectors, rescuers and wise counsellors. As our theme speaks to “making a positive difference to the well-being of men and boys,” it is our hope that those men who are responsible and well-grounded would lend of their time, energies and interest to become mentors – being that positive, influencing force to bring about real change in the lives of their struggling brothers. These must include our youth who are evidently susceptible to societal ills. Young men, teen males and boys alike must be reached from a very early age and be moulded into the model citizens they have great potential to be.
Men, we depend on you to be the family and community example. When boys grow up seeing you helping around the house and looking after the family, they will follow your good example. When they see you respecting women and girls instead of abusing them, they will follow your good example. When boys see you being honest, respectful and law abiding regardless of where you are and who is watching, they will follow your examples of being honourable men.
We need you to see yourselves as leaders in the home and in society, because when two persons work together, they can accomplish incredibly more. It is hard to climb a mountain with one hand, engage both, and you’ll get to the top in no time. In the same way the participation of both men and women is necessary if we are to accomplish effective nation building.
Our men deserve recognition for the strides they have made in the area of health and wellness. In recent times we have witnessed more men participating in health drives, taking routine check-ups, and committing to regular exercise and healthful dietary practices. We however are far from the finishing line; this is actually just the beginning.
It is with this in mind that the Department of Gender Affairs will host a “Men’s Health Champion’s Workshop” geared towards equipping community leaders such as pastors, mentors, leaders of community groups, sports clubs and others to lead the charge of men’s health in their own spheres of influence. With non-communicable diseases being the major cause of death in our country, we have to encourage more men to become health conscious, eat right, stay active, and to visit the doctor regularly, instead of waiting until there is unbearable pain for at that time it is usually too late.
Men we encourage you to be the light of hope and positivity in your family and community. As you live your lives, remember, your life is not primarily about you, but about the impact you make on those around you – your family, your church, your community, your nation – and those who will come after you – your children and their children.
Men we honour you, we encourage you, we salute you! Happy International Men’s Day, Happy Men’s Month 2020!