Written by Standard Issue

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White Ribbon Campaign: Seeking love, respect and equality

Friday 25 November is the International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women. The White Ribbon Campaign UK is all over it.

Changing1
White Ribbon Campaign UK (WRC UK) is part of a global movement to put a stop to male violence against women and girls. The campaign addresses men directly, encouraging them to become part of the solution, highlighting the crucial role they have to play in “creating a culture where male violence, abuse and harassment against women and girls are simply seen as unacceptable.”

WRC UK supports men in taking stands against gender violence in their workplaces, schools, communities and families. We asked one of the founders, Chris Green, some questions.

What is the White Ribbon Campaign (WRC)?

WRC operates in 80 countries around the world. Wearing a ribbon is a promise never to commit violence against women and girls, never to excuse violence and never to remain silent about violence of men against women and girls.

The WRC is the worldwide campaign of men speaking out against male violence against women and girls, and challenging attitudes and behaviour and gender stereotypes which underpin the violence(s).

We work on all the issues of emotional violence and abuse, sexual assault and sexual harassment, honour-based violence as well as the obvious physical violence. We seek a world where women and men live together in love, respect and equality.

When and how was White Ribbon Campaign in the UK founded?

The White Ribbon is a symbol of hope for a world where women and girls can live free from the fear of violence.

Wearing the ribbon is about challenging the acceptability of violence – by getting men involved, helping women to break the silence, and encouraging everyone to come together to build a better world for all.

The first White Ribbon Campaign was launched in 1991 by a group of men in Canada after the brutal mass shooting of 14 female students at the University of Montreal. Then in 1996, in South Africa, the National Network on Violence Against Women launched their own White Ribbon Campaign and many South African women’s groups quickly adopted the White Ribbon symbol.

White Ribbon Campaign logo
1998 saw Womankind launch the first White Ribbon Day in the UK and in 1999, the UN officially recognised 25 November as International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women.

In 2004, the White Ribbon Campaign UK – working to involve men in opposing violence against women – was set up to co-operate with work done by Womankind Worldwide and the White Ribbon Campaign UK website was launched.

I set it up, and am still heavily involved because the more you investigate violence against women and girls, the more you see it is a man’s issue, and men need to sort out the problem.

I just did it because violence against women and girls is wrong, it’s a scandal and all men should be involved in preventing violence.

What’s the Safer Music campaign?

To make festivals and venues safer by working in partnership with the music industry. We can help engage effectively with men and the Safe Music project offers training, expert advice, attendance at live events, and a network of ambassadors and performers who speak out about the issues.

And the Sports campaign?

The Sports Campaign is similar, but has a longer history. It operates with professional and amateur sports players, officials and teams, to increase the visibility of the campaign and educate participants about the issues.

“The more you investigate violence against women and girls, the more you see it is a man’s issue, and men need to sort out the problem.”

An example would be when Hull FC Rugby League club ran onto the pitch in front of 20,000 fans wearing Men Challenging Male Violence against Women T-shirts. It makes a statement, which is followed up with programme notes, PA announcements, and articles in the local press.

How can people get involved and support the WRC UK campaign?

We ask men to wear, swear and share:

Wear a ribbon;
Swear the WRC pledge; and
Share by talking about the issues with friends, colleagues at work and family.

We only have a handful of paid staff; most of the work is done by activist volunteers so we need you to volunteer to work with us as an Ambassador.

What’s happening on 25 November?

Friday 25 November is the UN International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women, and men choose to wear a white ribbon on that date. WRC UK has a social media thunderclap at 11am on the day.

Around the country, hundreds of events are happening organised by local authorities and community groups, varying from vigils for women who have lost their lives, to football games, music gigs, speaker meetings and street stalls.

When I ask people what would a world without violence against women be like, the audience responds: “Free”, “Loving”, “Caring”, “Fair”, “More money”, equal and one person shouted out: “NORMAL!” That’s what we need to make happen. A better world is possible.

Friday 25 November marks the start of 16 days of Activism against Gender-based Violence, which runs until Human Rights Day on 10 December.

@menantiviolence

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Written by Standard Issue