Movember: supporting the development of men’s health

With the month of November 2016 having recently passed, that has also signalled the end of the year’s Movember campaign. Movember aims to promote the development of mean’s health and is a 30-day annual campaign “to stop men dying too young.” It involves men (Mo Bros) growing moustaches for the month of November, while in more recent years, women (Mo Sistas) have also been encouraged to participate in the movement by supporting their male counterparts and assisting with awareness raising and funding campaigns.

Organised by the Movember Foundation it has come a long way since 2003 and now has a vision “to have an everlasting impact on the face of men’s health.” The Foundation is “funding ground-breaking programs all over the world, engaging with men where they are, to understand what works best, [and] to help make change happen sooner.” Many of these issues are simply not discussed or talked about and the Foundation currently supports over 1,200 projects globally that help in the fight against male prostate cancer, testicular cancer, mental health and suicide prevention.

The idea of Movember was conceived by two mates, Travis Garone and Luke Slattery, sharing a beer in a bar in Melbourne, Australia in 2003. At the time, they believed that the idea of the moustache had gone out of fashion and had disappeared from social trends, so they found 30 guys who were willing to take up their challenge. While the campaign didn’t raise any money in its first year it has since gone from strength to strength. As of 2015 – the statistics for 2016 are not yet available – over 5.2 million Mo Bros and Mo Sistas had participated in a Movember campaign spread across over 20 countries and over AUD 770 million had been raised. In addition, the Movember Foundation has become the first charity to receive ‘cult brand’ status from The Gathering, it had been ranked number 55 in the top 500 NGOs around the world according to NGO Advisor and it was voted the most innovative not-for-profit organisation in Australia on the 2015 Innovation Index. Despite the impressive growth and achievements, the Movember Foundation has no plans to rest on its laurels, and wants to continue promoting men’s health so that by 2030 number of men dying prematurely has been reduced by as much as 25%.

Movember has been so successful as a campaign and movement that it has even inspired other spin-off health-related campaigns. ‘Fannuary’ has seen women engage in not shaving their private parts during the month of January in order to raise awareness around the dangers of cervical cancer. Another spin-off has been the ‘Decembeaver’ initiative in which women have been encouraged not to shave their bikini lines to help raise funds for the American Cancer Society. In 2012 the initiative helped raise $116 million worldwide, an increase on the $89.1 million raised in 2011. A third initiative has been ‘Growvember’, which was started by two UK students, who are encouraging women to grow their armpit hair for the month of November in order “to challenge the disapproving attitudes which accompany women growing their armpit hair.”