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A Manifesto for Men and Boys

Supporting the Health and Wellbeing of Men and Boys  
General Election Policy Proposals 2024

The Men and Boys Coalition is a charity with a membership of over 100 other charities, organisations, professionals and academics supporting the health and wellbeing of men and boys in our country. Our vision is a society that values the wellbeing of men and boys.

We are asking all political parties to commit to implementing a range of measures that will improve public services, public policy and make a positive difference to the lives of men and boys. Doing so will also improve the lives of women and girls who all care, support and share society with men and boys.  

We call on politicians from all parties to join us in creating a more inclusive, equality-based and fair society. To do so requires a compassionate focus on the wellbeing of men and boys, as well as and alongside the essential attention devoted to issues affecting women and girls.

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1.     Treat the educational underachievement of boys as a national education priority.

Over the past 30 years, boys overall have been behind girls at every stage of education from Key Stage 2 to university but governments and the educational establishment in the UK have been indifferent at best. Over 4,500 boys are excluded from school every year and over 400,000 young men are currently categorised as ‘Not in Education Employment or Training’ – a waste of their talents and the talent this country needs.

We believe any new Government must address boys’ educational underachievement and related outcomes as a key educational priority. This should include schools formally acknowledging boys with absent fathers / lacking a positive male influence as a particularly high risk, disadvantaged group and providing the necessary early interventions to prevent underachievement, together with addressing the disproportionate shortage of male staff in schools. 

2.     To introduce a Men’s Health Strategy similar to those in Ireland and Australia, as advocated by the World Health Organisation Europe.

Men’s health in the UK is in crisis. One British man in five dies before the age of 65 and 40% of men die before the age of 75. Three-quarters of premature deaths from heart disease are male, three-quarters of suicides are male and men are 43% more likely to die from cancer.

We believe a fresh approach is needed in the UK that must centre on the creation of a National Men’s Health Strategy. This approach has been taken with successful results in several other countries including Ireland and Australia and is recommended by WHO (Europe). Such a strategy would complement and strengthen the current Women’s Health Strategy, introduced in 2022. In addition, Integrated Care Boards must have a specific strategy/plan to improve men’s health within their communities.

3.     To introduce a specific Male Suicide Prevention Action Plan and to create and implement easy to access, male-friendly mental health services, with improved signposting.

Thirteen men every day continue to die by suicide with 5,000 men taking their own lives (three in every four suicides) every year. As part of any national suicide prevention strategy, we believe there has to be a specific plan to tackle male suicide which is broader than the focus on middle-aged men – as class, place, occupation and other age groups remain an area of concern and health inequality/disparity. Integrated Care Boards need to have clear transparent targets to reduce male (and female) suicide with published plans they can be held accountable to.

4.     Better support for those at risk or suffering from prostate and testicular cancer.

Every day 33 men in the UK die from prostate cancer and it is the only major cancer where there is no national screening programme. We call for a National Screening Programme for prostate cancer across the UK, alongside far better promotion of the availability of testing. The programme must also address ethnic and regional differences.

Men with prostate cancer need better diagnosis, better treatment and better support. This includes ensuring every man with prostate cancer – or at risk of it – has access to the same high-quality diagnosis, treatment and care, no matter where in the UK they live. There must be no longer a postcode lottery.

5.     To introduce a parallel strategy to the Tacking Violence Against Women and Girls (VAWG) entitled Ending Intimate Violence Against Men and Boys.

Since 2010, male victims of a wide range of crimes including rape and sexual abuse, domestic violence, sexual exploitation, stalking, so-called honour-based abuse and forced marriage have been included within the National Strategy to Tackle Violence Against Women and Girls. This categorisation was imposed upon male survivors without consultation or consent, is considered grossly offensive and harmful by the vast majority of survivors and their representative charities, leads to inadequate and inappropriate policies for men and boys, and is widely perceived to operate as a barrier to male victims in accessing support and recovery services they need. We call on the next government to remove male victims from the VAWG strategy and address prevention and support efforts through a parallel and complementary strategy to prevent Intimate Violence Against Men and Boys.  

6.     To review and reform the legal definition of rape to include male victims who are raped by women.

In British law, the treatment of male victims of rape is different depending on the gender of the perpetrator with a harsher law being applied to male perpetrators than female perpetrators. We call for equality in law by reform ofsection 1 of the Sexual Offences Act 2003, to include cases where women force men to engage in non-consensual intercourse. (These cases are currently criminalised under section 4 of the Sexual Offences Act 2003, a less serious offence). 

7.     To promote the importance of active fatherhood in a child’s life.

We call on government to ensure fathers are involved as much as possible in the life of their children. This begins at birth, with maternity services reviewing and improving  their support for fathers. Legal changes mandating fathers to be named on birth certificates should be brought into force (with appropriate exemptions). The voice and inclusion of fathers should be recognised as important and vital in all professional practice with respect to children.

Change parental leave and pay to give employed fathers/second parents a minimum of two weeks’ paternity leave, plus four weeks’ non-transferable parental leave, paid at 90%, to be taken in the baby’s first year. A Paternity Allowance with similar benefits for other fathers/second parents should be introduced. Compulsory mediation, when safe, should be seen as the starting point in agreeing custody arrangements  for separating parents. 

8.     Reform prison education.

Wembley Stadium can be filled by the number of men currently in prison, with too many men continuing to offend once their sentence is finished and so returning. HM Inspectorate of Prisons’ report on prison education in 2022 showed significant failures on prison education. The recommendations within the report must be implemented.

9.     Appoint a Minister for Men’s Health and Wellbeing.            

To ensure there is focus across government on delivering and co-ordinating policy, action and accountability on men’s health, and wellbeing, there needs to be a minister with this specific remit and responsibility.

10.   To change the remit of the Government Equalities Office to include men and boys (currently the remit only covers women and girls).            

The current remit of the Government Equalities Office does not include gender-specific issues affecting men and boys. This is not in keeping with an inclusive, fair and equality-based government or society – and continues a public policy deficit in tackling wellbeing issues affecting men and boys.

Statistics on the wellbeing of men and boys can be found at: