White Ribbon Campaign Chief Executive David Bartlett says how inspiring it is that, on White Ribbon Day on 25th November, more men than ever will focus their energies on practical actions, local awareness-raising and social media activity to end violence against women and girls. This is a time for drawing closer together with allies, and reaching out to new communities and individuals.
At 11 am on 25th November, over 1.5 million people will get a message about the White Ribbon Campaign from over 300 different social media accounts. Including David Baddiel’s, which reaches over 460,000 people. They will be asked to join the Campaign here http://www.whiteribboncampaign.co.uk/aboutus. Most people in the UK have never heard of this vital Campaign. But, as Bartlett says, the Campaign is determined to change this.
Let’s be completely clear - this is not and never was a ‘women’s issue’. Just like any other aspect of gender equality, men have to be part of the solution, alongside women - part of creating a culture where male violence, abuse and harassment against women are simply seen as unacceptable.
There will be hundreds of local events on 25th November and the days that follow. For example, Leeds has just been reaccredited as a White Ribbon City, and has developed a powerful year-round programme of activities, starting on White Ribbon Day. White Ribbon photo frames will be available at over 70 key locations across the city, as part of ‘pop up shops’ in places such as Leeds Train Station, and in many workplaces. Men are encouraged to have a photograph taken in the frame pledging never to “commit, condone or stay silent about domestic abuse” - and upload this to #whiteribbonleeds. Leeds City Council has set itself a challenge of encouraging at least 1000 men across the city to show their support and make the pledge.
Schools across the city will also include information on respectful relationships in their lessons during the 16 days of activism following 25th November. And there is strong support from local celebrities such as Leeds Rhinos and the Brownlee brothers, as well as key politicians and faith leaders.
Councillor Lisa Mulherin Leeds City Council’s executive member responsible for children and families and lead for the domestic violence breakthrough project said:
Tackling domestic violence and abuse is one of the greatest challenges facing the city, which is why we have made it a top priority to address. The physical and emotional damage to victims can last a life time.
We estimate that one in four women will experience domestic violence and abuse at some time in their lives. We also know that many victims still keep silent and a major part of our work is how to raise awareness and encourage more victims to come forward for help and support.
It is easy to preach to the converted. And focussing on male violence could easily be a turn-off for some men. So the Campaign nationally reaches out to men across all social groups and communities, with a positive message about the need for healthier ways of being a man.
Fundamentally, White Ribbon believes in men – in their ability and willingness to be part of the solution. Most men, when asked, are completely opposed to violence against women. And men have much to gain from gender equality and healthier relationships between men and women. Restrictive gender roles harm men as well as women, boys as well as girls. We need more fluid, open ways of being a man, in which men do not feel they have to prove their manhood by being aggressive, successful alpha males.