The White Ribbon Campaign
What is the White Ribbon Campaign?
www.whiteribboncampaign.co.uk/ - is the UK branch of the global campaign to ensure men take more responsibility for reducing the level of violence against women. We are an educational organization to encourage reflection and discussion that leads to personal and collective action amongst men. Throughout the year we encourage men to do educational work in schools, workplaces and communities, to support local women's groups, and to raise money for the international educational efforts of the WRC. We distribute Education and Action kits to schools, colleges and youth clubs, maintain a website, and speak out on issues of public policy.
How can politicians support men’s anti-violence work?
Mr Chris Green, Chair of the White Ribbon Campaign UK, the largest NGO effort worldwide led by men that seeks to involve men in getting involved in advocating gender equality, argues that more male MPs need to take the lead in advocating gender equality:
"Parliamentarians enter parliament in order to make their community a better place.
There is no more important way to do this than by working to eliminate violence against women. Yet because of the over representation of men in every Parliament in Europe, it is vital for individual male parliamentarians to be involved in order for change to take place”.
Every year MPs across a number of parties take part in a photo session that is held on or around White Ribbon Day (November 25th), a day which is also recognised as the United Nations' International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women. The material gained from the photo session is then used to promote the organisation and its efforts to tackle some of the problems associated with domestic violence.
How can politicians take part in activities for the 25 November 2012 (United Nations’ International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women Day) and encourage men to get involved in combating violence against women?
Organise the following:
- Media-orientated public action in which politicians wear white ribbons and pledge personal and political support to the campaign
- Hearings or parliamentary seminars on the subject
- A network of male parliamentarians dedicated to the issue and ready to press for the strengthening of law, police training and provision for victims
- ‘Working breakfasts’ to discuss these issues in an informal context
- The invitation of MPs from abroad to share the experience of involving men in combating violence against women.
- A minute of silence on 25 November
- A statement on a manifesto or a declaration by male parliamentarians
Activities targeting the general public:
- Radio advertisements
- Appearances on TV actively supporting White Ribbon Campaign
- Asking well-known men such as actors, musicians, writers, and athletes to support the campaign by taking part in media campaigns
- Responding to current affairs related to violence against women
- Partnering with NGOs to help promote their work
- Going into schools and discussing the campaign
- Organising a poster campaign in public transport areas
- Events in the workplace, such as the setting up of a stand where men can sign up to pledge never to commit violence against women
How can Public Policy support men and young boys?
An ICM poll commissioned by EVAW showed that 42% of young people know girls whose boyfriends have hit them and that 40% know girls whose boyfriends have coerced or pressurised them to have sex. We need to move away from minimal work on challenging the tolerance of violence, to the kind of long-term uncompromising campaigns, such as those on drink driving (Source EVAW – www.evaw.org.uk).
The White Ribbon Campaign UK argues that public policy must take the lead in supporting educational programmes that seek to challenge discriminatory attitudes and practices at an early age. Public policy must support prevention work that seeks to discourage discriminatory attitudes and the primers that contribute to men’s violence. More provision for this kind of work will help to reduce the estimated cost to government of domestic violence.
However, if we really wish to galvanize teenage boys, if we really want to reach them, if we really want to have a life-long impact on their relations with women, then the key entry point might be on building healthy relationships through discussions with young people. This is the way in which young men can really understand the immediate relevancy of the issue of violence against women. Such work should focus on communication in relationships, respect, sexual responsibility, sexual violence, and emotional and verbal abuse.
What is the White Ribbon Status programme?
The White Ribbon Campaign currently runs a White Ribbon Status programme where we work with councils throughout the UK in an attempt to raise awareness, improve understanding, and provide services to help reduce the overall incidence of domestic violence.
The programme is intended for councils wishing to demonstrate their commitment to the aims of the WRC, and provide their local community with increased support and understanding of the issues associated with domestic violence. Councils are asked to meet certain criteria, depending on size, in order to be nationally recognised as having gained White Ribbon Status accreditation, with the full support of the WRC staff. There are a variety of initiatives available, as part of this award, to local businesses and to the general public.
At the moment there are around twenty two local authorities and Primary Care Trust’s which are White Ribbon Status accredited, with four working towards it, but we are keen to add to this number in order to increase the number of communities that benefit from the support the White Ribbon Campaign offers.