Become a Founding Member of Strengthening Ties
With Women’s Shelters Canada’s innovative new initiative, Strengthening Ties, men across the country have a concrete way to help end violence against women. Until now, private donations to support Canada’s violence against women (VAW) shelter system have largely come from women. Strengthening Ties gives men the opportunity to change that through a financial pledge, providing both connection and critical funding to end violence against women.
Founding donors pledge $1,000 a year for three years (or in monthly installments). The short-term vision for this circle of male allies is to address the gender balance of supporters for VAW shelters and transition houses in this country. The long-term vision involves a much loftier goal: to end the need for VAW shelters in Canada, period.
Learn more about the work these donations support and how to join this initiative here.
Tell us a bit about yourself:
My name is Darius Diongco and I have participated in Walk A Mile In Her Shoes for 4 years. This will be my fifth year.
Why is gender-based violence and violence against women an important issue for you to take action on?
To me this cause is very important because growing up as a child, I lived in a household full of women. My Dad left for Canada when I was 2 so up until I was 9, I lived with my brother, my mom, my aunts and female cousins. I learned at an early age the value and worth of a woman. I am also very close to my mother. She’s my inspiration and my home base. To know that violence against women is not just an issue within our community but also a greater issue worldwide is something that should be acknowledged. There are women who still suffer in silence so it’s imperative we raise awareness regarding this issue.
How did you first get involved in Walk a Mile in Her Shoes Toronto?
I first saw this event in the news and at first, I thought it was pretty cool that men were getting out of their comfort zone to wear heels in support of women. But the more I learned about White Ribbon and the organizations they work with to support women, I knew I wanted to be part of something important and worthwhile.
Why is Walk a Mile in Her Shoes important to you?
It’s important because although it is a fun event, it provides awareness in our community to talk about a difficult issue. I hope to be a role model for other men – including my colleagues, friends and family.
Any final thoughts?
I encourage everyone, men especially, to get out of your comfort zone and get involved in such a worthy cause. Also, a huge thank you to my friends and family for their overwhelming support and to my colleague Maria who let me borrow her heels.
Darius is participating in White Ribbon’s Walk a Mile in Her Shoes, presented by DSW Canada, The Shoe Company and Shoe Warehouse, taking place on Wednesday May 29, 2019 at 11:45am, David Pecaut Square, 215 King Street West, in Toronto. Donate to Darius’ participation at: whiteribbon.akaraisin.com/wamihs2019/dariusdiongco
Visit www.walkamiletoronto.ca to register, participate, and or donate. Thank you for your support of White Ribbon’s work to engage men and boys in promoting healthy masculinities and ending gender-based violence.
Tell us a bit about yourself:
I’m Todd Karges and I’ve been participating in Walk A Mile since 2012. I’d been supporting friends walking for a few years prior to that and decided I wanted to be more involved. This year I started working out at Motus Training Studio, a gym whose mission and values include inclusivity and diversity. When I told my friends there about the walk, they were immediately interested in joining. That’s how Marco, Jamie, Ryan and I became the Swole Sisters. We’re excited to be able to make a difference.
Why is gender-based violence and violence against women an important issue for you to take action on?
Gender-based violence isn’t a women’s issue, it’s a human issue. The work that White Ribbon does to undo a twisted power imbalance that leads to violence against women is essential. We all know women who have been victimized, and that’s a great reason to participate. We also recognize that when this kind of crap stops, everybody will benefit and we’ll live in a better place.
Why is Walk a Mile in Her Shoes important to you and how did you first get involved?
I’ve been involved for almost a decade, and the rest of the Swole Sisters are enthusiastic newcomers to the cause. We all know that education and outreach are the most effective ways to change people, and that it’s a long process. The work that White Ribbon does is so important and we all knew we had to help however we could.
Tell us about your team and how how you got them to participate in the walk this year:
The Swole Sisters came together naturally, and it literally took no convincing. When my friends from Motus heard what the event was about, they immediately wanted to participate. White Ribbon’s mission aligns so perfectly with what we strive to bring to our gym experience. We all recognize our role in opening up cultures and changing people’s perspectives. I’d say the Swole Sisters already existed. We just needed a place to put this energy.
What are you looking forward to most about this year’s walk?
Every year, I approach the walk with a bit of apprehension. The shoes are not comfortable and a mile is a long way to go in them. And every year, I am lifted by the energy and enthusiasm of the event: participants, spectators, everybody. Mostly I’m looking forward to helping White Ribbon achieve their fundraising goal.
Todd Karges is participating in White Ribbon’s Walk a Mile in Her Shoes, presented by DSW Canada, The Shoe Company and Shoe Warehouse, taking place on Wednesday May 29, 2019 at 11:45am, David Pecaut Square, 215 King Street West, in Toronto. Donate to The Swole Sisters at: whiteribbon.akaraisin.com/wamihs2019/theswolesisters
Visit www.walkamiletoronto.ca to register, participate, and or donate. Thank you for your support of White Ribbon’s work to engage men and boys in promoting healthy masculinities and ending gender-based violence.
Dear Friends of White Ribbon,
As Spring gets underway, we are busy delivering programming, putting our heads together for innovation, launching two exciting new campaigns, Boys Don’t Cry and the Portal-Pathway, and getting ready to Walk a Mile in Her Shoes! Our community outreach and social media engagement have ramped up to bring about greater awareness and change in ending gender-based violence across Canada and beyond. We are thrilled to share the following White Ribbon updates with you.
Get to Know Our Change-Makers
Over the past six months, White Ribbon has been blown away by the passion and commitment of fifteen men who have become Peer Champions, while embracing their roles in preventing gender-based violence in the community. Thirty community-based events were organized by our Peers, from kitchen tables to organizations and social spaces.
Visit the campaign website to learn more about domestic violence and an exciting new BEST model for ally-ship. These efforts are a part of White Ribbon’s partnership with the Immigrant and Refugee, Neighbours, Friends and Families Campaign.
These resources help men and boys learn about domestic violence,
its root causes and what they can do to create a future without harm.
Promoting Male Allyship and Girls' Education in Kenya
We continue to work closely with our partners at the World University Services of Canada and local community organizations to engage men and boys in supporting girls’ access to education in two refugee camps in Kenya. We are inspired by the incredible resiliency and passion of the community to advance quality and equitable education for girls.
White Ribbon and Kenya Equity in Education Project Community Mobilizers
Prevention of Sexual Violence in our Schools
For nearly three decades, White Ribbon has been proud to work with elementary and secondary institutions across Ontario to promote gender equality and give students and educators the tools they need to prevent all forms of gender-based violence. We continue to see very high demand and interest in our new Draw the Line Educators’ Guides. Results from workshops with educators indicate that 94% of participants believe that they gained an increased understanding of the role they can play in preventing sexual violence.
Over the past three years, and with the support of the Ontario Government, we reached over 2.7 million students and educators in 1,850 elementary and secondary schools and distributed 1.4 million copies of campaign educational materials.
To date, White Ribbon has reached all Ontario post-secondary institutions with programming, resources, and training. We are immensely proud of this achievement, and continue to roll out workshops with student leaders, coaches, faculty and staff on ways to prevent sexual violence (on and off campus).
Changing Hearts and Minds
Our broad outreach and awareness-raising from White Ribbon workshops continue to see positive results. We are so grateful for the immense interest and support from diverse community members to unpack masculinities and gender-based violence prevention. This means getting participants to think about how gender stereotypes manifest in their own lives, encouraging critical thinking, and making links to sexual violence and harassment against women and girls. Our participants have told us that, after attending our workshops, 85% have a better understanding of healthy relationships, consent and gender-based violence prevention.
Much more work still needs to be done and we need your support!
Nipissing University students, athletes, staff, and faculty sign the White Ribbon pledge.
Boys Don’t Cry
"Boys will be boys." What does that even mean? It used to mean being brave, being strong, being tough. At White Ribbon, we know how important it is to let boys be so much more than that. Have you seen our powerful new PSA Boys Don’t Cry? This new campaign, launched at the end of February has already reached over 41 million people across Canada and beyond. We can all play a role in promoting healthy masculinities with young people around us, especially those of us who are dads, educators, coaches, and community leaders.
White Ribbon wants to spark a conversation about the importance of healthy masculinities, empathy,
and emotional intelligence in boys as tools to help end gender-based violence.
Walk a Mile in Her Shoes
Every year we are so humbled by the immense support and participation in our annual Walk a Mile in Her Shoes Event. This event presents a great opportunity for men to demonstrate their allyship with survivors and their commitment to end all forms of gender-based violence. Our 10th annual Walk a Mile is fast approaching on Wednesday, May 29, 2019, at David Pecaut Square in Toronto. For more information, visit walkamiletoronto.ca.
On behalf of our volunteer board and small dedicated staff team, thank you again for your support of White Ribbon. Your renewed financial support is deeply appreciated - to make a donation today click here. Your donation will go towards much needed youth-based programming exploring consent, healthy masculinity, and male allyship. Make your mark, and help us to expand our reach.If you are interested in exploring partnerships or collaboration opportunities, please contact us at [email protected].
Together we can prevent gender-based violence, and encourage more male-identified youth and adults to challenge their own biases and assumptions and work in solidarity with folks across the gender spectrum to create spaces of equity, support, authenticity and compassion.
Humberto Carolo Kate Bojin
Executive Director Director of Programs
Please sign the White Ribbon Pledge at www.whiteribbon.ca/pledge.
I walk because I remember. In 1991, I was in the eighth grade and we were all trying to make sense of the tragedy that took place at Ecole Polytechnique. Why did this man do this terrible thing? Why did he target women? We all felt so helpless but decided to participate in a walk downtown wearing our white ribbons on a cold fall day. We wanted to show that we stood in solidarity on the important issue regarding zero tolerance for violence against women. Fast forward to today and we are still fighting for women’s equality and teaching our boys about healthy relationships and respect.
My son and I have had countless conversations about why I walk each year, why I raise money, and what it means to be a champion for this very important cause. Like me, he felt compelled to do something meaningful and asked if he could join the walk this year. While it will be a school day for him, I feel it’s appropriate to take him out for an afternoon for this very teachable moment. As we walk, we will continue our dialogue so that he can pay it forward and have these conversations with his male peers at school. Education is so important and the work the White Ribbon does each day is invaluable.
Thanks to all who have supported me on this walk and donated so generously. Dev and I will be asking for money again. The need still exists, and we must do something, keep walking and continue our efforts.
Sign up to participate in or donate to the 10th annual Walk a Mile in Her Shoes Toronto at: www.walkamiletoronto.ca
Donate to Nirav's page: whiteribbon.akaraisin.com/wamihs2019/niravpatel
With the recent tragic events at St. Michael’s College School in Toronto, there is an opportunity to shed light on male violence, its impacts, root causes and solutions. As of today, Toronto Police continue to investigate eight incidents at St. Michael’s, including alleged sexual assaults, assaults, and threats. The community continues to respond with an over-pouring of support, care, and concern. The School and the community have committed to a process of inquiry and culture change.
In late November, representatives from White Ribbon and St. Michael’s College met to discuss an overall approach and action plan to promote healthy masculinities and culture change at the school. This resulted in a partnership agreement between both organizations. Over the coming months, White Ribbon will be supporting St. Michael’s College School to promote healthy masculinities and spur transformational culture change. This will include immediate staff training, student education and engagement, and a school culture assessment. We will engage diverse stakeholders including students, staff, parents and alumni, to explore gaps, needs and opportunities to enhance St. Michael’s culture - ensuring everyone feels safe, respected, included, and valued. Findings from the School Culture Assessment will be foundational to the St. Michael’s Healthy Masculinities and Culture Change Strategy. We look forward to working with the St. Michael’s community and supporting the school’s journey ahead.
About White Ribbon
White Ribbon is a community-based organization created in 1991, two years after the 1989 Montreal Massacre. We work to examine the root causes of gender-based violence and to create a cultural shift that helps bring us to a future without violence. Our vision is for masculinities that embody the best qualities of being human. We believe that men and boys are part of the solution and part of a future that is safe and equitable for women and all people.
About St. Michael’s College School
St. Michael’s College School is Canada's only Catholic, Basilian, faith-based independent school, educating young men from Grades 7 to 12 in a university-preparatory programme. Founded in 1852, the school provides education in liberal arts, arts, athletics, and faith development. Please visit www.stmichaelscollegeschool.com for more information.
How Ontario Schools can Draw-the-Line to End Sexual Violence
Last year in Arianna Lambert’s grade 4/5 classroom, it started with a conversation about hugs. “We talked about why you should ask someone ahead of time,” she recounts. “It got them to think about how we actually impact the way people feel around us by going too close.”
Age-appropriate conversations like this one are taking place in many Ontario classrooms. They represent important stepping stones for building a culture of consent. Or, in other words, a culture where it’s recognized that a person is always the best judge of their own wants and needs—whether we’re talking about a hug, sexual activity, or anything else—and asking for consent is normalized and promoted.
White Ribbon--the world’s largest movement of men and boys working to end violence against women and girls—understands that bringing discussions about consent and healthy relationships into classrooms is key to stamping out the attitudes and behaviours that fuel sexual violence. What’s more, it’s not enough to create a culture where, as individuals, we don’t commit or condone sexual violence. To solve this pervasive problem, we all need to learn to be active bystanders: safely and effectively intervening when we see sexual violence taking place. That’s where Drawing the Line on Sexual Violence—A Guide for Ontario Educators can help.
Schools are in a unique position to help end sexual violence.
One in three Canadian women will experience some form of sexual assault in her lifetime—with young women being especially at risk. Female youth aged 12 to 17 are eight times more likely than male youth to be victims of sexual assault or another type of sexual offence. Meanwhile, Indigenous girls, LGBTQ youth and women and girls with disabilities run even higher risks of being sexually assaulted.
With unparalleled access to young people from all walks of life, teachers have a key role to play in helping students learn how to recognize and respond to sexual violence. That said, as a subject, sexual violence and consent can be intimidating to broach.
“When I first heard about the topic, I was a little bit apprehensive,” says Sean Lambert, a teacher with the Toronto District School Board and a contributing writer of the guide. “But once I got together with the team and knew the support we would have from White Ribbon, I understood it was good work.”
Draw-the-Line brings discussions about sexual violence out into the open.
Draw-the-Line is a bystander education campaign created by the Ontario Coalition of Rape Crisis Centres and Action ontarienne contre la violence faite aux femmes, who later partnered with White Ribbon. The campaign provokes discussions about sexual violence in our communities and provides strategies bystanders can use to intervene safely and effectively.
In 2016, White Ribbon saw the need for school-based resources on the same topic and, working alongside Ontario educators, developed tools to help teachers foster the next generation’s ability to navigate healthy relationships, understand consent and prevent sexual violence. Since then, more than 5000 copies of the guide (which is available in both French and English) have been distributed.
The resource helps students prepare for real-life situations.
Students discuss how they might react to the situation as teachers walk them through lesson plans that draw on expectations from the Ontario curriculum. “It becomes much more personal than a resource that might say ‘here are three tips…’” says Arianna.
According to Grace Guillaume, a first-year student at the University of Guelph who has volunteered with White Ribbon, it’s also a great way to practise for the unexpected. “When you encounter a situation in which you want to intervene, it often catches you off guard,” she explains. “You second guess yourself. But when you have these different examples of possible scenarios, you think of what you would do and should do. Then, when you encounter a real situation, there’s less processing. You can identify it more easily, and even though there’s not one exact right way to approach it, you already have an idea of what you can do.”
“I like the fact that there are also stories and links to videos about topics like cyberbullying,” adds Arianna. “It helps students understand those situations in ways that are relevant to their own lives.”
The resource can support more than just classroom discussions.
Some schools and students have used the campaign in creative ways. “Last year we created a show called My Being,” says Emily Guitar, a grade 12 student at the Etobicoke School of the Arts. “It’s an interdisciplinary show where we talk about rape culture, especially related to youth. We had 50 performers and 20 visual artists involved.”
The student-led group framed their show around the Draw-the-Line resources. They put on two performances for a total of 400 audience members, and students are planning a similar show for this year. “Last year we talked about the overall community aspect. This year, we plan to talk about how we can work to diminish sexual violence without justifying the actions of the perpetrators,” explains Emily.
Arianna can also see potential in taking the messages of the Draw-the-Line resource outside the classroom. “I think that (school-based) clubs could be a really effective way to do this,” she says. “It could allow for a broader conversation in a school that doesn’t necessarily have teacher buy-in.”
Male allies are key.
The resource guides also contain a section on engaging male bystanders—something that’s central to White Ribbon’s vision for ending sexual violence. Until recently, education initiatives have largely focused on how women can protect themselves, rather than on how men can be part of the solution.
“Throughout history people have made sexual violence a women’s issue,” says Grace. “It creates an environment where men aren’t reviewing their actions or their reactions to sexual violence.”
“I think it makes a huge difference when men and boys get involved,” comments Emily. She explains that when they do, it no longer feels like just a woman’s issue, but an issue that concerns all of us.
And when all genders become part of the solution, we all benefit. Safer communities and healthier relationships are just the start. When men and boys become allies to end sexual violence, they can also gain a healthier, non-violent sense of self—something which can lead to an increased ability to identify and express emotions, a decrease in risk-taking behaviours and even improved mental health.
How can you start a conversation at your school?
“Prior to writing the resource, I didn’t feel I had the expertise. I wouldn’t have known where to start,” Sean admits. “Teachers need good resources and a lot of good information.”
Although the current iteration of White Ribbon’s Draw-the-Line campaign in Elementary and Secondary Schools is coming to a close, the Drawing the Line on Sexual Violence guides are available for free download from the White Ribbon website. Furthermore, e-modules to support educators in the use of the guides are coming this month. White Ribbon continues to offer workshops for educators and students.
It’s also important to remember that, with the right support, any educator can tackle the material. “My mistake was thinking, I don’t teach health,” says Arianna. “All teachers could use these activities. They don’t necessarily have to happen in health class.”
Most importantly, keep in mind that by reaching out for information and support you can increase your comfort level with the subject. That, in turn, will help students to feel more at ease. “As a teacher my job is to make sure everyone is comfortable having these discussions,” says Sean. “If I can do that, it becomes less taboo.”
And when a topic like sexual violence loses its taboo, empathy for victims increases, people begin to take more responsibility for their actions and reactions, and big changes can be set in motion. “Just being presented with opportunities to have discussions around this is going to change lives, save lives, and make a change in our society,” Sean concludes.
December 6th marks the National Day of Remembrance and Action on Violence against Women. It’s a day in remembrance of the 14 female students who lost their lives in the École Polytechnique Massacre and all women whose lives were lost to gender-based violence. White Ribbon was created as a response to the massacre in 1991 by three men who felt men needed to speak up against violence. We reached out to a male ally that has been connected with us from the beginning to get his impressions about December 6th and his commitment to work to end violence against women.
After a busy TTC trip, down to the lower concourse level at Queen’s Park and through the glass doors, we found ourselves in a boardroom in one of Toronto’s office towers. Ready for a conversation about remembrance, allyship, gender-based violence, privilege and work culture. We met with Nirav Patel, Director of Human Resources, Corporate Groups, at Ontario Power Generation (OPG).
A warm welcome, a supportive white ribbon fastened on a blue suit and we are off to a very inspiring talk. Nirav starts by telling that OPG hosts a yearly breakfast, generously donating to White Ribbon and the cause of raising awareness about men’s role in ending gender-based violence. I was curious to know how Nirav got involved with White Ribbon and it goes back to the very beginning of the Campaign.
“It was 1989 and I think everybody saw in the news the tragic massacre that took place at École Polytechnique. I was in 8th grade, I was probably about 13 years old and many of us came to school confused. It was probably the first time in our generation's history that we saw this type of massacre in such a graphic and unjust way and we were trying to make sense of it. Why were women only targeted? Why did the shooter feel that he needed to come into a school, a place of learning, a place of safety and do this? And what did this mean for us moving forward? Why did this happen and what do we need to do to change this?”
Nirav was fortunate to have two teachers who facilitated a dialogue about the massacre: “this was some heavy stuff that we were talking about. And nobody talked about gender equity or violence against women in the way we might do today.”
The dialogue had started, and a few weeks later Nirav and his school took a trip downtown to participate in a march: “the White Ribbon movement began. It began with men coming together, Jack Layton bringing the troops together, saying we should create awareness. We should observe this as a sad issue, but we should also use this as a catapult to make some changes. We wore our white ribbons and that’s always sort of stayed with me.”
As Nirav entered high school, they took actions such as collecting donations for women’s shelters. Then “in the workplace the dialogue just sort of,” Nirav pauses, “not stopped, but you know, nobody really talked about this in the workplace back then.”
Again Nirav felt lucky to have a mentor that at the time encouraged him to do something about that. She told him to get creative, start small and go ahead and do something. He had her full support: “A few men got together and we decided to host a breakfast in and around the timeframe of 16 days of Activism against Gender-Based Violence, and we had male executives cook breakfast for the staff, they flipped pancakes, employees were invited to walk in and make a donation to a woman’s shelter that specifically supported women leaving abusive relationships. And we signed a pledge together to not tolerate violence against women and be advocates for gender equity. And then we had some speeches. That’s sort of how the event started and it’s been about 15 years and we are still doing it.” The funds now raised at the breakfast support White Ribbon’s efforts to end gender-based violence.
Much has happened since 1991. But much is yet to be done. For a long-term solution to ending violence, men must embrace their responsibility. Or in Nirav’s words: “In general, men must have courage.” Courage to stand up and speak out: “If you hear a joke that’s inappropriate then don’t laugh along, stop it and have a dialogue. It could be starting with ‘hey that’s not cool and here’s why it’s not cool’ or ‘I don’t appreciate that’. And as simple as that sounds, it’s something that men don’t often do.”
Many men don’t know how to intervene or support someone who has experienced violence. They feel it’s a women’s issue and don’t know what to say. “I think the many masks that men carry - being stoic, being strong, not showing emotions - really need to be removed. All of those things have perpetuated the society that we live in now, where we have so much gender-based violence, where we’re experiencing women talk about harassment and sharing their stories. We need to have more dialogue to end the tragic stuff that takes place.”
When it comes to the workplace, it’s also about having a dialogue to create a culture of respect. It doesn’t happen overnight, as Nirav tells me: “I think it needs to be fostered, I think it needs to be promoted and I think it needs to be talked about.”
In Nirav’s organization their code of conduct guides the behaviour: “It tends to be a roadmap in terms of a way to behave and something to adhere to to a certain extent. We want people to work safely and go home to their families every day without suffering any injuries. A lot of that goes to feeling respected and valued at work. The goal is to have a conversation about what respect looks like and sometimes having those specific conversations with specific teams help set the norm for the organization.”
In the #MeToo era it is especially important to have these conversations: “I think most men, I’m not speaking for all men, but most men should know or ought to know what appropriate behavior is. I think what happens is that a lot of men feel powerful and they feel like they can get away with it. With the MeToo movement, things have been called to light. It’s important and I really respect all women that have come forward to share those very personal stories. I think it has taken a lot of courage for those individuals to come out, but the good thing is that it’s created a dialogue for people and it’s created a call to men to be more mindful of their behavior, the language they use and how to be more respectful.”
Furthermore Nirav urges men to be open to coaching: “when women come to you to say ‘hey you didn’t handle that really well’ or ‘can I offer a different lens on something’, we should take feedback as a gift, especially when it comes from a woman on some of these issues related to gender equity specifically.”
Nirav has so much more at heart about allyship, being a role model, ending violence against women, men’s privilege and men’s need to be advocates that one blog story is not enough. Look out for our podcast and video coming soon!.
We encourage and invite other men to organize steps and donations to support the cause to end gender-based violence. Think about the kind of ally you want to be in your workplace, community, and personal life. Follow Nirav's example and take small steps to make a difference.
Check out our website for more tips, information, and resources and reach out to [email protected] on how to get involved in your workplace.
by Malene Nørby Pedersen
“A wife is like the other half of yourself. If you think about some decisions and you don’t know whether to go with it or not, she is the one there to tell you if it is right or wrong. She is like part of you,” Omer says.
He calmly clears his throat, folds his hands and introduces himself to me as a guy who works at George Brown College supporting the IT team and enjoys life: “I have travelled to several places”, and he prefers hiking rather than sitting at home he tells me.
Omer is also one of fourteen male allies who work to address violence against women and girls in immigrant and refugee communities. In partnership with Neighbours, Friends and Families White Ribbon started a 1-year project in March 2018 to engage men and boys from immigrant and refugee communities to prevent gender-based violence: “Immigrant and Refugee Communities - Neighbours, Friends and Families” (IRCNFF).
White Ribbon delivered an interactive training in September to prepare the fourteen male-identified participants on the key role they will play in raising awareness: the importance of recognizing the warning signs of violence against women and girls and promoting bystander intervention in order to support survivors and prevent domestic violence.
Omer finds it important to raise awareness in the immigrant and refugee communities. He encourages them to be open-minded to remedy the issues concerning violence that prevails in these communities, stressing that he wants to let people understand the need to: “respect each other even if they have different cultures and ideas of religion or different backgrounds.” Omer continues: “whenever I get annoyed I just go lay down somewhere in nature, like hearing the wind or the birds or whatever in the place you are in. Mostly I do that in parks. It’s like you feel you get out of the situation, the problems go away from your body, and you can just leave it there.” In this way Omer copes with difficult situations and he encourages other men to do the same or find their own ways, so that things don’t escalate to violence.
During his travels, Omer witnessed violence against women and children - sometimes even parents with their kids, he adds. It motivated him to join the IRCNFF project: “When I heard about the program I felt like this is the chance for me to make a difference in this world.”
At the training with White Ribbon the participants were taught different things. A focus during the training was given to the early signs of violence: “being depressed, trying to run away from or avoid something. Some of the scenarios we saw in videos in the training, for example, a woman in a supermarket, where a guy came out of nowhere yelling at her. So the scenario was that the girl tried to avoid him, but the guy wouldn’t let her go. So the way to react in this case is you either go in between them or you call somebody with authorities to help stop the situation,” Omer explains. The manbox was another point of discussion and illustrated how men are expected to be and act as powerful, dominant, fearless, strong and emotionless, traits that perpetuate gender inequality and fuel gender-based violence.
Omer wants me to forward one last message:
“The only thing I can say to you guys is try to understand, try to respect each other and try to avoid any violence.”
To learn more about White Ribbon's work to engage Immigrant and Refugee male-identified youth and adults, visit our webpage. Be sure to check back on our website in February 2019 for new community resources!
How to talk to men who are abusive: http://www.neighboursfriendsandfamilies.ca/how-to-help/how-to-talk-to-men
The Assaulted Women’s Helpline at 1-866-863-0511 offers a 24-hour telephone and TTY 1-866-863-7868 crisis line for abused women in Ontario. The service is anonymous and confidential and is provided in up to 154 languages.
Helpline staff can support you in helping the abused woman or abusive man. They will discuss the warning signs of abuse you have seen and give you practical advice on ways to help.
For more information about the services of the Assaulted Women’s Helpline visit: www.awhl.org. In an emergency, call your local police service.
“Continue Supporting Girls’ Education”, that is my message”, Shukri shared in a meeting with White Ribbon staff last week, where we discussed ways to engage men and boys in supporting girls’ education.
Today is the International Day of the girl child and we, at White Ribbon, would like to take this opportunity to echo the need to strengthen global efforts to empower girls and ensure their human rights. In line with this year’s theme, With Her: A Skilled GirlForce, we are sharing Shukri’s success story: a story that can inspire refugee girls’ journey to a better future.
boys can do more to ensure that girls feel comfortable at schools. In addition, she stated the importance of community and block leaders embracing solidarity, as well as introducing daycare facilities to support child-headed households to go to school. While giving us these great inputs, Shukri remembered a story.
In Hagadera Refugee Camp, she liaised with the father of a 15-year-old girl, who planned for his daughter to be married to a man in the United States. The father made a living off collecting firewood outside the camp and selling it inside. It was however not enough to provide for his 15-year-old daughter and her younger siblings. The way out for him meant sending his daughter away to marry.
Shukri and another male community mobilizer had a conversation with the father to convince him that marriage was not the only way. They showed him their own example: as recipients of scholarships from WUSC they were given the opportunity to better their own future and that of their families. The same chance for his daughter would benefit not only her well-being but also the entire family as opposed to dowries which are only of short-term help, adding that investing in girls’ education will also contribute to the community at large. Shukri wished to emphasize this:
Since the inception of the project in 2014, White Ribbon has delivered a number of training initiatives in Dadaab and Kakuma refugee camps together with community mobilizers to engage men and boys to support girls’ education. The goal is to contribute to a positive change in communities’ attitudes and enable supportive behaviours towards girls’ education.