White Ribbon: 20 Years, 1000s of Campaigns to End Violence Against Women

December 5, 2011 Michael Kaufman

Here’s an amazing thing about the White Ribbon Campaign: there is no membership, no structured international network, ­­no official way to join and, in Canada where we started, there is a staff of only 5 hardworking men in donated office space. And yet, by my latest count, the campaign has spread to more than 70 countries.

Here’s an annoying thing about the WRC: Why did it take men 8000 years since the rise of male-dominated societies to finally start speaking out to end violence against women and to challenge our own beliefs that men should have power in relationships?

Here’s a good thing ­about the WRC: We’ve worked hard to be completely mainstream. We reach out to men and boys across the social and political spectra. Amongst those who take part in WRC activities or wear or display a white ribbon, we disagree on many critical issues about life, the economy, religion, the environment, war and peace. But we speak with a united voice against all forms of men’s violence against women.

Here’s another good thing about the WRC: We believe that people know best how to reach the men and boys in their own schools, workplaces, communities, places of worship, families, and nations. That means we believe that it is all of our responsibilities to take action! We believe that men and boys must examine our own attitudes and behaviour; we believe that all of us have the responsibility to speak to the boys and men around us to challenge words and behaviour that is abusive to women, that is domineering, that is bullying, or that encourages physical, emotional and sexual violence.

Here’s an exciting thing about the WRC: There’s an amazing range of things being done around the world to raise awareness about this problem and encourage men to speak out: from political leaders wearing ribbons in their parliaments to school boys making chalk drawings on the sidewalk; from motorcycle rides to fundraising walks; from sermons in churches, mosques, synagogues, and temples to men and boys speaking up in locker rooms; from posters going up and ribbons being distributed to huge ribbons being draped from public buildings; from assemblies in schools and information tables in offices to men and women handing out ribbons at factory gates; from articles in newspapers to messages on the internet. And all that barely starts the list.

Here’s a cool thing about the WRC: In a few countries or communities, WR activities are sponsored by the government, in others it’s just a handful of men and women who do something each year. In some, WR is a permanent organization, in others it’s just an activity sponsored by various non-governmental organizations, UN agencies, unions, corporations, student organizations, media outlets, or sports teams.

Here’s a frustrating thing about the White Ribbon Campaign: Because we’re decentralized, it’s impossible to know all that’s going on around the world, but below are some videos, articles, websites, and photos.

One Thing I Did For Our 20th Anniversary

For our 20th anniversary, I’ve written a short article about what was unique in the approach of White Ribbon and why it’s spread around the world.  http://ecbiz194.inmotionhosting.com/~micha383/wp-content/uploads/2008/12/The-Day-the-White-Ribbon-Campaign-Changed-the-Game.pdf

What You Can Do To Mark The 20th Anniversary

  • I hope you’ll consider making a contribution to support the work of White Ribbon or WR in your country
  • Get a WR Campaign going in your school, factory, office, sports team, place of worship, community.
  • Support local women’s organizations, shelters, NGOs.
  • Speak out to the men and boys around you!

My Favorite White Ribbon TV Ads & Short Videos This Year

Lebanon: “Beating is…Shameful”

Mongolia: Mongolian men young men speaking out!

Malaysia: Young men speak out

Australia: Australian men should swear

China: Street campaign: men sign a WR banner in Wuhan Start at 3:37min

Pacific Island Rockers Team Up With Great WR Music Video

Photos, Websites, Articles,Videos From Some of the Campaigns

From about 45 of the WR efforts around the world. Please post your links and updates as comments!

Austria: WR banners at the Vienna city hall, government leaders speak out. http://www.whiteribbon.at/ Here’s a video they did: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-RzdcyNBSDo

Australia: As always, a huge campaign across the country: rallys, meetings, marches, billboards, stickers on police and municipal vehicles, football and rugy matches. Governments and media refer to November 25 as “White Ribbon Day.”  If you haven’t seen it, check out their amazing TV video spot featuring singer Keith Urban and many other prominent Australian men:  “Australian Men Should Swear” http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Y19OOhXG9dw For more, see my blog a year ago: http://www.michaelkaufman.com/2010/amazing-white-ribbon-campaigns-in-australia-new-zealand-south-pacific-%E2%80%A6-and-antarctica/ Australian Rugby star wears jersey of NZ arch-rivals to make a statement about speaking out. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_MNidJHWtfc&feature=related

Argentina: Presentations to students & local meetings. http://www.lazoblanco.org/

Brazil: The cross-country campaign is led by a consortium of NGOs. The government has proclaimed December 6 as their White Ribbon Day. http://www.lacobranco.org.br/

Cambodia: Led by the NGO Gender and Development, among their activities this year was bringing 8000 people together to make a huge white ribbon. Video:  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wdFP4_Uy2zg

Canada: Hundreds of grassroots efforts in schools, universities, offices, factories, government offices. To coincide with the 20th anniversary of the WRC, our staff has prepared an issue brief for the Canadian government titled, “Engaging Men and Boys to Reduce and Prevent Gender-Based Violence.” Download it in English or French here: http://www.whiteribbon.com/issuebrief/ And the Canadian Auto Workers recognized this anniversary at their annual conference.  Muslim men from communities across Canada gathered to launch a White Ribbon Campaign and to support Imams in speaking out to end violence against women. (Click here for coverage & photos) And here’s a powerpoint video done by WR in 2009 that talks about the history and approach of the WRC: http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=endscreen&NR=1&v=ezgIOc1XmOw

China: Women on the street of Wuhan, get a White Ribbon Campaign going. Wonderful video starting at 3:37min: http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_detailpage&v=U6TVaLeoYd4#t=218s

Chile: Marches and meetings in different cities. http://www.lazoblanco.cl/

Costa Rica:  Institute builds WRC, legislators wear white ribbons, drivers put them on taxis. http://costaricahoy.info/nacionales/manana-es-el-dia-del-lazo-blanco/121068/ & http://www.institutowemcr.org/articulos/index.htm

Croatia: Ribbons given out in 20 cities: men wear them to vow they won’t “abuse, justify abuse or remain silent.” http://www.croatiantimes.com/news/General_News/2011-11-25/23454/%27White_ribbon_campaign%27_raises_awareness_about_violence_against_women

Dominican Republic: Campaign tied into 16 Days.  http://www.listindiario.com.do/la-republica/2011/11/25/212322/Lanzan-campana-en-apoyo-a-la-no-violencia-contra-la-mujer

El Salvador: Just getting off the ground. http://www.diariolatorre.es/index.php?id=39&tx_ttnews%5Btt_news%5D=19921&tx_ttnews%5BbackPid%5D=176&cHash=73a5c67594

England. Lots happening, including wrapping trees in Leeds with white ribbons to make the issue visible. White Ribbon UK  http://www.whiteribboncampaign.co.uk/.   Among many other organizations, the Islamic Society of Britain endorsed the WRC; on the Isle of Wight, rocker Bryan Adams signed onto the campaign. In North London, a huge white ribbon was projected onto a building. And here’s their London blog: http://whiteribbonlondon.blogspot.com/

Fiji: Appears that Fiji Women’s Crisis Centre has taken a lead to engage men and boys.Ireland: Rape Crisis Network Ireland, Safe Ireland and The Men’s Development Network join forces to rally Irish men. Family Resource Centres across country also have WR campaigns. http://www.advertiser.ie/mayo/article/47067/16-days-of-action-opposing-violence-against-women & http://www.fijitimes.com/story.aspx?id=187314

Finland:  http://www.profeministimiehet.net/wrc/

Ghana: WR distributed by Gender Development Institute

Guatemala: Courageous women and men (including in WRC) are working to end the terrible number of murders of women. http://miamericas.info/

Italy: Over the last few years, Fiocco Blanco has produced good posters, worked in local communities, and got top football teams to lend their support. http://www.fioccobianco.it/

Ireland: WR makes it clear they’re focusing on “The Other Half” – that is, men and boys. http://theotherhalf.ie/whiteribbon/

Kiribati: Police band in this Pacific Island leads march with fisherman, all wearing black. (In Australia, men are encouraged to wear only black and white on what they all call White Ribbon Day, Nov. 25, the UN’s International Day for the Eradication of Violence Against Women.) http://www.ppdvp.org.nz/2011/11/23/white-ribbon-day-2011-the-outcomes/

Lebanon: Led by KAFA http://www.wluml.org/node/6857, 475 WR billboards around country, 2 mobile trucks, 94 groups as partners, and the distribution of WR scarves.  A short TV ad: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eNaDTtx4nuU&feature=related A longer video: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=59FDvQIbDTY & on facebook; https://www.facebook.com/abaadmena

Malaysia: I love this White Ribbon video with men speaking out! http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BI9IDmzucEI

Malta: Football players hold placards to crowd: “No to Domestic Violence”. Malta Football Association works with government & NGOs to support WR. http://www.independent.com.mt/news.asp?newsitemid=136482

Mongolia: Great video of young men speaking out!  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=T-jXVTUN02Q

Namibia: WRC continues to speak out http://www.namibian.com.na/news-articles/national/full-story/archive/2010/december/article/man-to-man-violence-must-stop/

Naura: Police authorized to wear white ribbons on Pacific Island.  http://www.ppdvp.org.nz/2011/11/23/white-ribbon-day-2011-the-outcomes/

Nepal: Here’s an English language presentation the campaign has prepared: http://www.interfacenepal.com/credits/images/BookletonwhiteribboncampaigninNepal.pdf

Nigeria: House speaker promises White Ribbon conference they will introduce new law on rape. UN Women uses the White Ribbon as part of its November 25 campaign. http://www.thenationonlineng.net/2011/index.php/news/28777-reps-to-sponsor-bills-against-rape.html

New Zealand: Huge campaign include tremendous local media support, rallys, meetings, marches, and the cross-country motorcycle ride by ex-bikers. Here’s their website.  http://whiteribbon.org.nz/For more, see my blog a year ago: http://www.michaelkaufman.com/2010/amazing-white-ribbon-campaigns-in-australia-new-zealand-south-pacific-%E2%80%A6-and-antarctica/

Norway: The first campaign outside of Canada is still going strong.  http://www.hvittband.no/

Pacific Islands: Terrific music video: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8KitGfjj2-k&feature=related

Pakistan: Candlelight marches in Lahore & other cities. http://www.pakistantoday.com.pk/2011/11/set-us-free/ WRC Pakistan launches One Million Signature Campaign. http://www.whiteribbon.org.pk/index.php

Philippines:   White Ribbon launched in Manilla. http://bluelawbyanna.blogspot.com/2009/09/launch-of-white-ribbon-campaign-in.html

Scotland: Leading football club, Celtic, supports WRC + lots more around country.  Police in Highlands & northern Scotland join forces with women’s and men’s groups.  http://www.stornowaygazette.co.uk/community/campaign_to_reduce_domestic_abuse_1_1990324 More at: www.whiteribbonscotland.org.uk

Somoa: photo album from 2010 http://picasaweb.google.com/117856681787790341104/SamoaWhiteRibbonDay?gsessionid=INLAU7jwc8kPFPGztVi9pQ#

Soloman Islands: Parades & talks for 16 Days & WR  http://www.solomonstarnews.com/features/women/12928-16-days-of-activism-campaign-and-white-ribbon-campaign-starts

Spain: A huge amount all over the country: local governments often joining with women’s groups, men’s groups and local WR organizations.  Valencia is one of hundreds of example. http://www.elperiodic.com/benidorm/noticias/147636_benidorm-solidariza-gran-lazo-blanco-internacional-contra-violencia-genero.html

Sri Lanka: One focus of WR is sexual harassment on public transporation. http://www.dailymirror.lk/news/15054-sexual-harassment-in-public-transport.html

Swaziland: Wearing white ribbons as part of 16 days national campaign http://www.observer.org.sz/index.php?news=32724

Switzerland: The two-year-old WRC is developing programs aimed at boys and young men. http://www.white-ribbon.ch/

Taiwan: Foundation starts WRC http://www.taiwannews.com.tw/etn/news_content.php?id=1753859

Thailand: Prime Minister & other leaders put on white ribbons. http://www.asianews.it/news-en/Bangkok,-a-white-ribbon-against-abuse-of-women-and-children-16943.html

Tonga: PM suspends cabinet meeting for WR activities.   http://www.ppdvp.org.nz/2011/11/23/white-ribbon-day-2011-the-outcomes/

Turkey: Prime Minister Erdogan supports White Ribbon Camaign. http://www.todayszaman.com/news-263853-turkey-joins-hands-for-fight-against-domestic-violence.html

United States: Tons of things, especially on university and college campuses at various times of the year. Plus many local efforts: here’s just one of hundreds from Wisconsin http://www.superiortelegram.com/event/article/id/60263/ and here’s a fathers’ group in Ohio. http://neofathering.net/white_ribbon.asp

Uruguay: Meetings and presentations by WRC Argentina & Uruguay. http://www.lazoblanco.org/

Wales: Welsh Rugby Union endorsed the campaign as did leaders of all political parties. http://www.walesonline.co.uk/news/wales-news/2011/11/25/calls-for-domestic-violence-campaign-support-91466-29838267/

Farthest north in the Western hemisphere: Dawson City, Yukon – home of the 1989’s Gold Rush http://mile0city.ca/article/news/2011/11/23/dawson-creek-residents-urged-join-white-ribbon-campaign-effort-end-violence- Yellowknife, NWT comes a close second: members of legislature wear whiteribbons.

Farthest south: Australian merchant sailors in Antarctica last year.


5 Comments on “White Ribbon: 20 Years, 1000s of Campaigns to End Violence Against Women

  1. While the WRC plays a vital read in assisting eradicate the global epidemic that is violence against women I feel the campaign falls short in one area…
    I understand this is a ‘mens campaign’ it’s vital to remember that women are more likely to empower other women into fighting for the better future they deserve so why not allow them the same rights as men in this campaign?! Ie: allow women to become ambassadors (and not just advocates – australia)DONT separate the supporters names on ‘supporter lists’ (England).
    Don’t automatically put women in a separate class.
    This campaign can’t stand for equality and women’s rights if the wants, needs, desires and rights are not met in the campaign itself.

  2. I see merit in your message but question the collateral effect of white ribbon campaigns in modern times. With all due respect , reverse racism and reverse sexism in the professional workplaces for mid to higher level jobs in America is running rampant. This is common knowledge although rarly publicize since it is not “PC” and therefore not newsworthy. Further I personally know of 3 women executives in 2014 that complain about not being able to find a good boyfreind or as they put it “one that will make me feel like a woman by actingly like a real man”. In other words they strongly prefer an aggressive, rough boyfriend to feel feminine. There are undoubtedly 1000’s of others and this is also common knowledge although again not “PC”. While I agree with your message of non violence, I disagree with the anti male sexist approach and imagery.

    1. There is absolutely nothing anti male or sexist in the approach or imagery of WRC, the fact that men or women for that matter associate rough or aggressive with being male is in and of itself the problem. No matter which way you look at the issue the fact remains there is far to much violence in the world and the bulk of it is perpetrated by men. Therefore as Men, we have a collective responsibility to change this albeit for nothing else than to create a more peaceful world.

  3. Når mænd gør vold mod kvinder gør de også vold mod naturens orden – mænd skal beskytte og elske deres kvinder så de er glade og lykkelige for at føde og opdrage deres børn og slægten kan gå videre.

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