The History of the Movember Movement

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Movember, a movement known globally today, has its own story and meaning behind why and what it stands for; it’s a tale behind a group of Australian men who wanted to ‘Grow a Mo, save a Bro.’ The Movember charity has grown dramatically since  it’s modest beginnings in 2003, inspiring individuals to grow and groom their moustaches for the entire 30 days of November, while raising funds and awareness for the wellbeing of men.

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Travis Garone and Luke Slattery were sat with a drink in Melbourne discussing how moustaches had all but vanished from fashion trends worldwide, and together they conjured the idea of growing moustaches together. Garone sent an email titled ‘Are you man enough to be my man?’ with an ambition to bring the moustache back; 30 guys in 2003 were ready to take part and, due to interest in the idea, both Garone and Slattery decided to formalize the concept to create a movement that now helps men’s mental and physical health.

The idea around Movember found inspiration through a friend’s mother who was known for her handwork and fundraising for breast cancer, and after the team began to research men’s health issues,  they decided to formally support prostate cancer. Garone enrolled and built a website for the Movember Foundation, where they then decided to charge $10 to ‘grow a Mo’ in support of the cause. The movement approached the Prostate Cancer Foundation of Australia (PCFA) in 2004 and they accepted funds, but at this point they weren’t seen as an official men’s health partner.

The organization turned over its first Movember cheque to the PCFA in 2004, providing the biggest single donation ever received. 480 Mo Bros and Mo Sisters (women who also help the cause) supported them during those two years, raised $54,000 and sponsored six men’s wellness initiatives. Taking Australia by surprise, in 2005, Movember expanded dramatically, increasing its cumulative number of participants to 9,795. It was in 2005 that the PCFA became an official health partner for men.

With the ever-growing rate of participants and support, the movement decided in 2006 to branch out and look into a wider variety of health needs in men and this was the start of the mental health side of the movement. They teamed up with beyondblue, ‘the national depression and anxiety initiative,’ giving them the official title of a recognized charity; this in turn opened more doors and branched out their range to New Zealand and United States and many other countries.

This rapid development continued with their launch in Ireland, collaborating with the Irish Cancer Society in 2008, as both the New Zealand Cancer Society and the New Zealand Mental Health Foundation became the male health partners of Movember at home. There were 373,530 people participating at the time, with $61,859,758 collected and 152 men’s wellbeing programmes sponsored.

In 2012 they were once again ranked in the ‘Top 100 Best NGOs’ – out of the estimated five million NGOs across the world – and continued to expand, launching in Austria, France, Germany, Hong Kong, Singapore, Sweden, Switzerland.

The charity today hosts campaigns in 21 nations, bringing the Mo back to life, whether you wear the classic moustache, sacrifice your beard or get imaginative with your Mo. Nearly five million individuals have participated since 2003, raising more than $735 million and supporting over 1,000 male health initiatives, with a broader focus on prostate cancer, testicular cancer, physical inactivity and poor mental health. This movement is a fun and enjoyable way to help men’s health and it’s easy to join and participate, so why not try it yourself.

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History Editor 2020-21

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