Jeremy Lefroy, Member of Parliament for Stafford, today led the House of Commons debate on International Men’s Day which took place in Westminster Hall. MPs from across the political spectrum spoke in the debate, showing the cross-party nature of these issues.
International Men’s Day takes place on the 19th of November. The objectives of the day include the promotion of role models, a focus on male health and wellbeing, and the improvement of gender relations and gender equality. In the UK the day takes a gender inclusive approach and therefore believes in ensuring that issues affecting women and girls are also resolved.
Jeremy spoke on a variety of important issues including role models, health and well-being, education, access to children, and gender relations. He addressed the need to recognise the huge number of men in the UK who daily work for their families and communities and actively promote equality not just in words but in their actions. Role models are found in every community but often need to be encouraged to share their difficulties as well as their successes. Jeremy encouraged the Government to help existing people and organisations that have a proven track record over many years.
On health and well-being Jeremy pointed out various health risks that men in particular face, and of the reluctance men often show in seeking help when sick. He also raised the public health crisis of male suicide and mental health, asking the Minister how he was going to tackle this in a comprehensive way that takes into account inequality and deprivation.
Speaking of the fallout of broken families in relation to access rights of fathers Jeremy pointed out that this often shows itself in one of two ways: either a father neglecting his duties to contribute to the maintenance of his children, or a father and child denied access to each other. He called on the Government to uphold parental rights for all, as well as to encourage fathers in their responsibilities for their children.
Additionally, Jeremy talked about discrepancies in educational achievement for boys and men, as well as the low numbers of male teachers, particularly at primary school level. He asked the minister what is being done to ensure that teaching is introduced as a great career option to all students.
Closing his speech, Jeremy noted:
“We have just concluded the poignant remembrance season and that brings me to a cause for great thankfulness. Yesterday, in Stafford I saw the hundreds of names of men and boys on the war memorial as I stood waiting to lay a wreath. We pay tribute to the great professionals – men and women – in our armed services, who keep us safe at great personal risk. We, unlike our fathers and grandfathers, have not had to spend years of our lives fighting.
But that gives us an opportunity and responsibility to contribute positively to our families and communities, to work for peace, to look out for the interests and welfare of others and help to build a better world. I have pointed out many areas in which we can all work together to improve the life chances, health and well-being of men and boys. But we can also be thankful just how much life has improved for most of us over the past hundred years, and ensure those improvements are within the reach of all.”
Commenting afterwards, Jeremy said:
“It is vital that these debates are not just words but that we see actions coming out of them. I very much look forward to having a debate this time next year and seeing that real progress has been made, both locally in MPs constituencies as well as nationally led by the Government.”