What is the White Ribbon Campaign (WRC)? The WRC is the largest effort in the world of men working to end men's violence against women. It relies on volunteer support and financial contributions from individuals and organizations. How did the WRC get started? In 1991, a handful of men in Canada decided they had a responsibility to urge men to speak out against violence against women. They decided that wearing a white ribbon would be a symbol of men's opposition to men's violence against women. After only six weeks preparation, as many as one hundred thousand men across Canada wore a white ribbon. Many others were drawn into discussion and debate on the issue of men's violence. There are now White Ribbon Campaigns operating in many countries around the world. The UK Branch of WRC was started in 2004. What does it mean to wear a white ribbon? Wearing a white ribbon is a personal pledge never to commit, condone or remain silent about violence against women. Each year, we urge men and boys to wear a ribbon for one or two weeks, starting on November 25, the International Day for the Eradication of Violence Against Women What are the goals of the WRC and how do volunteers accomplish these objectives? We are an educational organization to encourage reflection and discussion that leads to personal and collective action among men. Throughout the year, we encourage men to do educational work in schools, workplaces and communities, to support local women's groups, to raise money for the international educational efforts of the WRC. We distribute Education and Action kits to schools and we maintain a website. We speak out on issues of public policy. What happens during White Ribbon Week? We urge men and boys to wear a ribbon, including one on their coat so the ribbon will be visible while they're outdoors. We encourage men to talk in schools, workplaces, and places of worship about the problem of violence . Does the White Ribbon Campaign exist only during White Ribbon Week? Just as men's violence against women is a year-round problem, our work requires a year-round effort. We distribute to schools educational kits that can be used throughout the year. Some local groups organize events around Father's Day to talk about positive roles for men, about the importance of men being care givers and nurturers. Some groups organize Valentine's Day dances to spread a message about building healthy relationships. Are you taking attention away from women's groups? WRC got huge media attention when setting up--in fact, way out of proportion to what we were actually doing compared to women's groups. It remains important for local WRC groups to work with the media. The reason is simple: To contribute to the end of violence against women, we must reach men. The media is one way to do so. We also encourage journalists to report on women's programmes. In our own outreach and education work we talk about the work of women on these issues. Basic Philosophy: Is our only concern men's violence against women? We are concerned about all forms of violence. Our central focus is on men's violence against women. Comparing violence committed by women and by men, the British Crime Survey notes that the result of men's violence is five times as likely to require medical attention. Women are four times as likely as men to fear for their lives, and three and a half times as likely to be murdered by a male spouse than vice versa. We are deeply concerned about violence against children, which is committed by both women and men (although men commit most acts of sexual violence against children.) We are concerned about the many forms of men's violence against other men, whether it's in a bar, on a playground, or in a sports arena, and whether it's because of someone's skin colour, sexual orientation, culture, or simply because they looked the wrong way. We are also concerned by the comparatively rare acts of violence by women against men. Does this mean you think that men are bad? Are you male bashers? We don't think that men are naturally violent and we don't think that men are bad. The majority of men are not violent. Researchers have discovered many past cultures with little or no violence. At the same time we do think that many men have learned to express their anger or insecurity through violence. Many men have come to believe that violence against a woman, child or another man is an acceptable way to control another person. The problem does not stop with physical violence. There are forms of emotional violence--from sexist joking, to sexual harassment at work, to other domineering forms of behaviour. By remaining silent about these things, we allow other men to poison our working and learning environments. The good news is that more and more men want to make a difference. Caring men are tired of the sexism that hurts the women around them. We're not male bashers because we're men, working with men, who care about what happens in the lives of men. Membership & leadership: Participation in White Ribbon committees is open to any man who is opposed to violence against women, who is committed to equality between women and men, and who is committed to examining and challenging violence in his own life. Men who engage in violence against women are not welcome. We warmly welcome men from all walks of life, religions, and political affiliations regardless of age, sexual orientation, race, ethnic group, or physical ability. What about the participation of a man who was violent in the past? We believe that violent men can change--otherwise we might as well pack up our bags and forget the whole thing. If a violent man has taken responsibility for his past actions, if he has paid society's price or made amends, has sought treatment, if he doesn't hide the fact that he was once violent, then, normally, we welcome his participation. At the same time, the campaign will not be a smoke-screen for any violent man pretending innocence. Can women be members? Wear a ribbon? Help in the campaign? The WRC is a campaign of men, aimed at men. Wearing a ribbon is a statement of men's opposition to violence against women. We haven't encouraged it, but in some schools and communities women also have decided to wear white ribbons. In some communities and schools, women have played a key role in getting a white ribbon effort off the ground. Many women have chosen to financially support our work because they believe we are tackling violence at its roots. We acknowledge and greatly appreciate their support while believing that men must take on the task of building the campaign. What are your relations with women's groups? We acknowledge the expertise and central role of women in challenging violence against women. We encourage our local groups to have an ongoing dialogue with women's groups in their community. WRC Groups have worked closely with rape crisis centres, womens' refuges, and many other groups on a variety of issues. When we first started, some women's groups had questions about the role and intentions of the WRC. There were concerns (which we shared) about the disproportionate media attention. Who runs the White Ribbon Campaign? We have a voluntary Board of Women and Men with representatives from across the community. Ultimately, you and other volunteers lead the White Ribbon Campaign. Money Matters: How do you raise money? Not a penny of our budget has come from government funding. Although we may apply for funds for particular educational projects, we will not receive any basic operating funds from any level of government. Our funding comes primarily from contributions from supporters like yourself. It also comes from trade unions, corporations, religious institutions, and charitable foundations. Local groups have activities to raise money for White Ribbon. Does this take money away from women's groups? The WRC tries to make sure we are of real financial benefit to shelters for abused women, rape crisis centres, and women's advocacy programs. We explicitly encourage men to give generously to these groups. On White Ribbon Day, local committees raise money for women's programs. We also believe that by reaching men and contributing to the reduction of violence against women, we are making a contribution to the overstretched resources of women's support services. What happens with the money you raise? In the UK work for the WRC is done on a voluntary basis. Contributions are spent on producing educational materials. In North America there are some paid WRC staff. With your support, we look forward to hiring people to focus on outreach to schoolsand youth groups, work with unions and companies, responding to the issues of the day, and work with differerent communities to develop materials in their languages. We produce campaign materials We undertake education work with young people. We make statements to the national media on behalf of the WRC. We send local organizers the names of White Ribbon supporters in your area. We maintain a web site on the Internet.
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