The White Ribbon Campaign

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Today is day 10 of the White Ribbon Campaign’s 16 Days of Activism Against Gender Violence. The WRC is the largest initiative in the world of men working to end violence against women (VAW). With a focus on educating men and boys, campaigns are led by both men and women in over fifty countries around the world. During these 16 days of activism, Canadians are reminded that they can take action, now and throughout the year, to eliminate violence against women and girls in all its forms.

How did the WRC get started?

The École Polytechnique massacre occurred on December 6, 1989, where 14 women were killed by an anti-feminist man. As a reaction, in 1991, a handful of men in Canada, including the late Jack Layton, decided they had a responsibility to urge other men to speak out about VAW. Wearing a white ribbon would be a symbol of men's opposition to VAW. With only six weeks of preparation, 100,000 men across Canada wore a white ribbon, while many others took part in discussion and debate.


Armando Perla and Matthew McRae wearing white ribbons

Armando Perla (right) and Matthew McRae, CMHR Research Assistant, wearing white ribbons


When does the WRC take place?

The WRC runs from November 25th until December 10th, encompassing December 6th, National Day of Remembrance and Action on Violence against Women in Canada. November 25th marks the International Day for the Elimination of VAW. It is the first day of the 16 Days of Activism against Gender Violence, and December 10 – International Human Rights Day – is the final day.  These 16 days of activism are recognized internationally.

November 25th was designated in 1999 by the United Nations General Assembly to commemorate the lives of the Mirabal sisters who were violently assassinated in 1960 in the Dominican Republic. Each year on this day, governments, international organizations and NGOs are invited to organize activities to raise public awareness and fight VAW.

December 6th was established in 1991 by the Parliament of Canada to mark the anniversary of the massacre at l'École Polytechnique de Montréal. It also commemorates the 14 women whose lives ended in an act of gender-based violence that shook the country.

December 6th is an opportunity for Canadians to reflect on the issue of VAW in our society. It also allows us to consider the women and girls for whom violence is a daily reality, and to remember those who have died of gender-based violence. And finally, it is a day on which every one of us take concrete actions to eliminate all forms of VAW and girls.

UN Commission on the Status of Women

As a result of my involvement in the WRC, I will be attending the annual UN Commission on the Status of Women in March 2013. I will have the honour of joining the Canadian Voice of Women for Peace (VOW) which, for the first time, is including men as part of its delegation. The priority theme of the Commission’s work this year is the elimination and prevention of all forms of VAW and girls.

Wear a white ribbon, make a pledge to never commit, condone or remain silent about violence against women and girls, and be part of the campaign!

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