It’s about continuing a conversation about violence against women.
A number of campus organizations — the Dalhousie Student Union, the Office of Human Rights and Equity, Dal Security, the Boys Club, the Dal Tigers, ResLife, Facilities Management and the University of King's College — are working together to organize Dal’s first campus-wide white ribbon campaign.
The white ribbon campaign first began in 1991, with 100,000 men across Canada wearing white ribbons and participating in discussions and debates about their opposition to violence. It is now active in over 55 countries, becoming the largest worldwide effort of men working to end violence against women. The symbol of wearing a white ribbon has become a personal pledge: “to never commit, condone or remain silent about violence against women or girls.”
“Specifically, this campaign aims to combat and challenge violence against women from the side of men, which is really important,” said Danny Shanahan, vice-president student life of the DSU and logistics coordinator of the initiative, alongside Dal Security’s Community Safety Officer Jacob MacIssaac.
“It's not looking at it as a women's issue anymore. It's everyone's issue and it's something that we all have to have a hand in,” adds Shanahan.
MacIsaac notes that the Dal Security team are all wearing the white ribbons this month to show their commitment to addressing violence against women.
“I think one of the goals we have is to encourage people to continue the dialogue,” he says. “It’s a topic that can go underground sometimes, where people don’t talk about it a lot, so we’re encouraging people to actively discuss it.”
Men speaking up
The goal of the white ribbon campaign is to end violence against women through five strategies: challenging everyone to speak out, educating young people, raising public awareness of the issue, working in partnership with women's organizations, and supporting white ribbon campaigns around the world.
The campaign focuses on the most widespread forms of violence against women, including physical violence within relationships, emotional abuse, sexual harassment at work or in public, stalking, sexist jokes or remarks, and controlling behaviour. The campaign also addresses extreme violence in certain countries, which occurs in the form of genital mutilation and trafficking of young girls and women into prostitution.
In accord with the nature of the campaign's slogan, Dal's campaign is spearheaded primarily by men in leadership positions across campus, as well students in everyday walks of life. The DSU recently held two information sessions for volunteers, which Shanahan said brought out a huge contingent of varsity athletes, both male and female, to learn about the issues and how to create conversation around them.
Starting this week, you’ll notice students and volunteers handing out white ribbons, snacks and material on the issue of violence against women. You can expect to see campaign members tabling in high traffic areas throughout Studley Campus like the Student Union Building and the Killam Library, as well as on both Carleton and Sexton campuses and the Agricultural Campus.
“It's certainly something that not everyone's comfortable to talk about right away, but it's something that's really important to chat about,” adds Shanahan. “If you see people out this week, please grab a ribbon and show your support for this awesome campaign. Obviously people are busy with exams, but I think this is definitely an issue that people will want to listen to.”
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