At last, society is finally having a serious conversation about violence against women. Sadly, it has taken the lives of countless women to get to this point, but at least we’re now starting to accept that attacks on women is a real issue in our society. While women have been at the forefront of raising awareness, men have also been playing an increasingly active role too. Part of that male-led allegiance is White Ribbon Day, a high-profile campaign with the single aim of ending violence against women around the world.
What is White Ribbon Day?
White Ribbon Day is a campaign led by men to end male violence against all females. Originally started in 1991, this protest movement was the result of a sickening massacre of female students at a university in Montreal, Canada. The resulting outrage encouraged a group of men to get together to become active and supportive allies to various women’s groups. They decided to show that support initially by wearing a white ribbon (similar to the cancer ribbons we’re all familiar with). The movement’s mission statement is one that everyone can support – the White Ribbon Promise to never commit, excuse or remain silent about male violence against women.
Since that first event in 1991, the White Ribbon movement has spread around the world and is now active in 60 countries. On the 25th November every year, White Ribbon Day is a chance for men around the world to show solidarity with women who have suffered abuse, violence and sexual assault. It’s a way for men to say, “We can do better” and be true allies to women. White Ribbon Day is the start of over two weeks of active campaigning to raise awareness, concluding on December 10th, Human Rights Day.
What does the charity do?
The charity works with a huge network of ambassadors, representatives, champions and organisations to raise awareness and campaign for change. The aim isn’t to react to violence against women – it’s to stop it from happening in the first place.
The organisation’s ambassadors are attempting to make real, demonstrable changes by engaging with young men and boys to educate and encourage attitudes towards women to change, as well as showing how challenging friends and other men around them on their behaviour in such a way as to not only avoid conflict, but to change minds.
This work is being carried out at all levels of society, especially among young people. In 2019, the charity launched its White Ribbon Youth Advocate programme. Through ambassadors and champions, the charity encourages young people aged 14-19 to think more carefully about the issues surrounding violence towards women, and to teach them how to be a positive influence among their friends and communities.
How you can help support the White Ribbon Charity
On Thursday 25th November 2021, White Ribbon Day launches once again, bringing the issue of violence against women sharply into the spotlight. The hashtag #AllMenCan is a reminder that all men are part of the solution. To drive home the message, the charity is looking for groups, individuals and organisations across the UK to support them with fundraising, donating and becoming actively involved in the fight to end violence against women. While individuals can participate by donating and wearing the white ribbon, the charity is also asking organisations to step up too.
They’re calling for businesses to become supporter organisations, too. This involves a donation and a commitment to their seven-point programme to create safe, secure environments for women and to show active support for the charity.
For younger people, White Ribbon packs are available for schools and youth organisations to encourage young adults to step forward and become White Ribbon Youth Advocates. By engaging at an earlier age with young boys of their own age, Youth Advocates can help them to change the way they think about women, and learn that certain behaviours, attitudes and even language are unacceptable in today’s society.
If you would like to know more about White Ribbon Day, visit www.whiteribbon.org.uk
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