The Welsh Government has been accused of sex discrimination for supporting International Women’s Day with grants totalling £30,000 while ignoring International Men’s Day.
Tory councillor Peter Davies – Newport Council’s equality champion and father of Monmouth MP David Davies – says the decision to back one day but not the other is hypocritical.
He said: “I don’t particularly object to the Welsh Government spending money on International Women’s Day, but I would have thought that with its commitment to equality it would also be happy to recognise International Men’s Day, which will be celebrated this Saturday.
“This isn’t a trivial issue – part of the money spent on International Women’s Day relates to the treatment of women’s cancers.
“But I’ve been contacted by a prostate cancer charity that is raising funds, and obviously that is a form of cancer only contracted by men.
“I think it’s quite hypocritical of the Welsh Government to back one gender against another in this way. They seem to think it’s politically all right, but I am sure many people will see that in no way does it represent equality.”
A Welsh Government spokeswoman said: “We recently invited applications for events celebrating equality and diversity linked to age, disability, gender (men and women), sexual orientation, race, religion or non belief, pregnancy and maternity and gender reassignment. We would consider each application for funding that we receive on an individual basis and on merit.”
The spokeswoman did not point out that any projects approved as part of the total of £15,000 available have to be spent by March 31 next year – two weeks after International Women’s Day and eight month’s before the next International Men’s Day.
International Women’s Day has its origins in the socialist movement and was conceived as part of a strategy to promote equal rights, including suffrage, for women.
. The first national Women's Day was observed on February 29 1909 in the United States following a declaration by the Socialist Party of America.
In August 1910, an International Women’s Conference was organised to precede the general meeting of the Socialist Second International in Copenhagen. Delegates – 100 women from 17 countries – agreed with the idea of an International Women’s Day as a strategy to promote equal rights, including suffrage, for women.
The following year, on It was marked for the first time on March 18, 1911, by more than a million people in Austria, Denmark, Germany and Switzerland.
It was celebrated by Russian woman two years later and was declared a day off work by the Soviet Union in 1965.
In the West, International Women’s Day was first observed as a popular event after 1977 when the United Nations General Assembly invited member states to proclaim March 8 as the UN Day for Women's Rights and International Peace.
International Men’s Day is an annual international event celebrated on November 19.
Unesco’s director of women and culture of peace Ingeborg Breines has said of it: “This is an excellent idea and would give some gender balance.”
The objectives of celebrating International Men's Day include focusing on men's and boys’ health, improving gender relations, promoting gender equality, and highlighting positive male role models.
According to its creators, International Men’s Day is a time to promote positive aspects of male identity based on the premise that “males of all ages respond more energetically to positive role models than they do to negative gender stereotyping”.
The Welsh Government has also earmarked £30,000 for International Women’s Day 2012, and a further £30,000 for an All Wales Women’s Network.