International Men’s Day brings Parliament together to support our men and boys, by Nick Fletcher MP

International Men’s Day (last Sunday) has become increasing popular across the country and I am pleased it has. Before I became a MP in 2019, I had not heard of it, but this year it seems to have been everywhere. The organisers, the Men and Boys Coalition charity, have told me they think it was the best ever with 800 organisations taking part over a two week period.

Ensuring there was a Parliamentary Debate once again this year certainly helps. It was even better that there were positive contributions across the party floor. Most notably from Stella Creasy (Labour, Walthamstow) who spoke about the importance of fathers, the need to speak up about their roles and stop their denigration. Jim Shannon (DUP, Strangford) spoke about male suicide rates and prostate cancer including in Northern Ireland. Patricia Gibson (SNP, North Ayrshire and Arran) built on that theme and rightly praised the importance of Men’s Sheds and allotments in resolving loneliness and isolation for older men.

My Conservative colleagues Dame Maria Miller (Basingstoke), Cherilyn Mackrory (Truro and Falmouth), Caroline Ansell (Eastbourne) and Karl McCartney (Lincoln) also made a range of important contributions too.

The fact that such positive contributions were made shows that gradually Parliamentarians are starting to understand that we need our men and boys to be doing well. To be able to lead positive lives and better support their families, the economy and all of society. We do not live in silos. Men and boys doing well mean women and girls are doing well too. It is not a party political issue.

This is why I used the analogy of ‘Tommy’ from Doncaster who I spoke about in my maiden speech. A young lad who does not have the best start in life. His family life is not great. His parents separate acrimoniously so he ends up with no father figure at home alongside an overworked mother who is juggling childcare and work. His education suffers, he is disruptive and ends up getting drawn into gangs and crime. He then has a relationship, has a child and the same cycle begins. How do we support the ‘Tommys’ across the country?

Supporting men and boys in all their shapes and forms underpins International Men’s Day and it is not good enough for us to keep talking about them not having problems, when they do. For instance, 400,000 young men are Not in Education, Employment or Training (NEETs), 4,500 boys are excluded from schools and 90,000 men are in prison right now. Enough to fill Wembley Stadium.

The Minister, Maria Caulfield MP (Lewes) made an important contribution outlining the very important announcements that were made by the Department for Health and Social Care on International Men’s Day. This includes a large contribution of £16 million toward the life-saving national prostate cancer trial led by Prostate Cancer UK. Better information on NHS website was also important as was the landmark announcement of a Men’s Health Ambassador. They really drive through the changes we need on men’s health. There will also be a Task and Finish Group of men’s health specialists to support this work too.

The announcements lay important markers for the whole health system – more than the important measures themselves. It is a recognition, for the first time, that men’s health really matters in policy terms, in its own right. Men have been featured in suicide prevention strategies especially as 13 men a day die by suicide, making up three in every four. The newly announced Major Conditions Strategy also includes men throughout.

However, men’s health is seen at last in its own right. It is about time. Given 88 every day die from heart disease, 33 by prostate cancer and 17 due to alcohol. The All-Party Parliamentary Group on Issues Affecting Men and Boys have been leading the charge in Parliament to get men’s health recognised as a distinct issue. The Health and Social Care Committee, chaired by the excellent Steve Brine MP, also has an inquiry on men’s health starting very soon too.

International Men’s Day is a perfect time in Parliament to really focus on the issues facing men and boys in our society, alongside supporting the charities that support them. The focus though needs to be all year round and the Government announcement this week will provide a perfect springboard to do just that for the rest of this Parliament and the next.

[ You can read the full debate in Parliament by visiting: ]

Nick Fletcher MP

Nick Fletcher is the Conservative MP for Don Valley and has been an MP since 2019.