“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.
It’s been quite the Spring (now summer!) here at White Ribbon. Our team has been on the road and connecting with community partners locally, nationally and internationally.
Entering our fourth year collaborating with World University Services of Canada, and phase 2 of the Kenya Education and Equity Project (KEEP), Community Engagement Managers, Kaoutar and David are co- facilitating a training in Dadaab and Kakuma Refugee Camps. Engaging Community Mobilizers, we are supporting community-led actions plans and solutions to redressing barriers in sustaining girls participation in school. Look out for a blog on their experience soon!
We are continuing our work with UNFPA Vietnam on an engaged fatherhood programme with young and expectant couples to promote healthy relationships and prevent gender-based violence in the home, and community. Together, we are creating a national program geared towards creating a strong foundation of communication, trust and awareness of how parents can foster gender equity in their parenting.
We are excitedly planning for next phase Draw the Line (DTL) in ten new post-secondary institutions in Ontario. If your school has not yet engaged with Draw the Line- we would love to hear from you! This next phase focuses on the creation of a unique sexual violence prevention metric for colleges and universities to assess their performance in this area, and communicate to their community this is a priority. Missed the Facebook Live event with Chuck Winters on the role of sports in ending sexual violence? Catch up here.
We have just concluded the first full year of DTL activities in elementary and secondary schools. We distributed thousands of resources and helped hundreds of educators and students strengthen their ability to prevent sexual violence in their community. We are now preparing for more workshops and activities for the fall.
A big kudos to all walkers, volunteers and fundraisers who participated in Walk a Mile in Her Shoes on May 30, 2018. We have surpassed our goal of $200,000 which will enable White Ribbon to carry out more awareness-raising activities to promote healthy masculinity, and male ally-ship.
To Quebec! We are working closely with partners to support a social marketing campaign to enhance awareness on roles men and boys can play to end gender-based violence. Recently, White Ribbon gave the closing keynote address on our work with men and boys at Justice Canada’s Victims and Survivors Federal Symposium.
Internally, we are putting the finishing touches on our strategic plan, marketing and communications #MeToo strategy, and having further discussions on how we can articulate and exemplify key organizational values. Look out for an update to our website on these strategic directions and values soon!
It’s been a fast and furious spring and start of summer, but we wouldn’t have it any other way.
This Spring, David Garzon, White Ribbon’s Community Engagement Manager, sat down with Chuck Winters, former Toronto Argonaut player, coach, and anti-violence activist to discuss athletes and coaches’ roles to prevent gender-based violence and promote gender equity.
Winters now dedicates himself to harnessing that power to raise his players’ awareness of violence prevention. He invites his players to stop and think about the ideas that they implicitly learned by hearing sexist or homophobic derogatory comments as part of “normal conversations”. He asks them to pay attention to how their words and actions can be discriminatory. He asks them to reflect and be more conscious of their words and actions so that they can change their behaviours. He seeks to foster empathy for survivors of gender-based violence by sharing his own childhood experiences of domestic violence, inviting speakers to talk about their experiences, and by creating partnerships with feminist organizations in his community.
Winters is a strong believer in coaches’ ability to create change and he outlined four simple steps for those who may wish to follow his example.
Winters also had words of advice for colleges and universities to help them tackle gender-based violence. He argues that these institutions should put in place programs to support students and athletes who have had personal experiences of violence so that they can help break the cycle of violence that often reproduces itself from generation to generation. He also argues that they should make gender-based violence prevention their issue and create programs to help athletes understand that sexism and violence are learned behaviours and help them change.
White Ribbon was thrilled to participate in the very first Shelters of the Future Conference organized by Women’s Shelters Canada from June 13-15, 2018 in Ottawa. As an organization dedicated to redressing the root causes of gender-based violence, it is imperative we also understand the lived realities of survivors, and the challenges faced by shelters and transition homes.
The need is real
Over and over numerous women’s shelters and transition homes spoke about the increasing need in the community for effective, meaningful and survivor-centered VAW response. Shelters provided staggering annual numbers of 10,000-15,000 calls to crisis lines. This equates to at least 1 call every hour to a shelter in Canada.
Innovative spirits were high
Renae Hopf and Nathalie Trottier shared their stories of resilience, power and hope. Their strength and vulnerability in sharing their experience was overwhelming. Needed Kleenex. So much Kleenex. Thank you Renae and Nathalie.
It takes all of us
Together with the We Want No More Project and the Timmins Family Violence Interagency Action Committee, White Ribbon presented on key campaigns, and effective messaging and approaches for meaningful male engagement.
To the guys reading this- Strengthening Ties is looking for 50 men across the country to make a $3,000 commitment over three years to Women’s Shelters Canada. They also agree to be advocates speaking out against domestic violence. Hurry- 37 men have already confirmed. Visit the White Ribbon website for some inspiration and tools in speaking out.
As an organization dedicated to preventing gender-based violence (from subtle emotional forms to physical violence), we are keen to have further dialogue and collaboration to advance gender-transformative programming that can be adapted to local contexts, together with women’s shelters and organizations.
I’ve only scratched the surface of some of the amazing experience which were shared over the past couple days, but my cup is full to the brim.
Written by Kate Bojin, Director of Programs, White Ribbon
I know we’re all still in shock of the events that took place in Toronto last month, but I feel torn in two directions and have decided that it’s in times like these when we come together that we can potentially make the biggest difference.
When I say, “I’m torn” it’s because part of me says “don’t publicize this, don’t give this loser the headlines and don’t bring attention to his alleged motivations or cause” but another part of me wants to discuss it as I feel it needs to be spoken about.
Toronto doesn’t need a new hashtag, and as proud as I am to be a Torontonian I feel that we’re already stronger, more tolerant, more accepting and more welcoming than most, as can be seen by watching the cultural mosaic of witnesses interviewed in the area.
This hits especially close to home as Christine and I have called this area our home for the last five years.
Christine was working from home that day and out running errands at Shoppers, Tims, clothing donation etc. and on the very same sidewalks that a few hours later became news around the world.
We’re horrified seeing events like this on an almost weekly basis but this one feels different, this one was home.
Chris and I know every inch of these sidewalks. The restaurants and shops seen in the news clips are places we visit daily. Mel Lastman square is somewhere we walk nightly in search of the latest stray cat Christine has found to feed.
I don’t want to spend time on the matter of “incels” or legitimize the word or the people who believe in this nonsense but do realize that their misogynistic attitude exists out there and we as a people have a responsibility to educate ourselves above it.
A few years ago, we lost a friend to a senseless act of violence and have since pledged our time to a lesser known cause, White Ribbon.
White Ribbon is the world’s largest movement of men and boys working to end violence against women and girls, promote gender equity, healthy relationships and a new vision of masculinity. Since its inception in Toronto in 1991, White Ribbon has spread to over 60 countries around the world. White Ribbon asks men to wear white ribbons as a sign of their pledge to never commit, condone or remain silent about violence against women and girls.
Regardless of the motives of this recent attack, I feel that now more than ever we need to bring issues like violence against women to the forefront as it is a very present issue that doesn’t always receive the publicity it deserves.
On May 30, 2018 we’ll be participating in White Ribbon’s “Walk A Mile in Her Shoes” campaign for our “Ribbons for Rachelle” team to raise money and bring awareness to this issue.
I would love your support whether it be monetarily or by joining our team and walking with us. I’d love to see some of my friends (and friends with sons!) and everyone out there showing their support.
Mike Hollinsworth and his team “Ribbons for Rachelle” are participating in White Ribbon’s Walk a Mile in Her Shoes, presented by Town Shoes Ltd, taking place on Wednesday May 30, 2018 at 12noon, David Pecaut Square, 215 King Street West, in Toronto. Visit the Walk website 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.
Why I Walk, or How I Underline My Vulnerability
I walk because I have been shamed and felt ashamed as a victim of sexual violence.
I walk because living with shame is like wearing a set of prescription glasses made for someone else.
I walk because being vulnerable is human and there is no shame in my humanity.
I walk to underline that vulnerability, which I am told is “weak” and should be kept private. Rape culture, a euphemism for our shared social environment that permits and condones sexual aggression and obscures understanding of consent, is excruciatingly public and I cannot be quiet about its insidious consequences.
In early 2016, Toronto Police Service (TPS) charged a man with sexual assault after I reported a ‘date rape.’ They took my statement three times that day. They made copies of my handwritten notes detailing what happened. They photographed the bruises. They collected clothing for evidence. One year later, in early 2017, in a meeting with the Crown to discuss the upcoming trial, I was told that the behaviour of this man was “ungentlemanly” but that it was, in the words of the TPS detective, “hard to read minds.” Never-mind the statement which indicated how many times I uttered the word “no” and the brutal nude photographs they had access to—this was not a winnable case. The Crown suggested I ask the man to sign a Peace Bond instead of going to trial. I agreed (flippantly) because it was clear that my experience at the hands of this man was no longer enough. A lawyer and a cop had agreed it wasn’t that bad.
One of the goals of sexual violence is the humiliation of the victim; reporting sexual violence often re-traumatizes and re-humiliates. Prosecuting this crime is a heavy and harmful burden on victims who often have no advocates. The incentives to report are low, the burden of proof is high, and the system is not equipped (nor designed) to deal empathetically or ‘productively’ with people who experience sexual violence.
I walk for White Ribbon because by the time the crime is reported the harm done is irrevocable. We must stop gendered and sexual violence where the first seeds are planted and become rooted: in schools, in the media, in political discourse, and in gender socialization, in every form. White Ribbon is doing the work of education, with programming that promotes “gender equality [and] healthy relationships and helps to counter the harmful effects of toxic masculinity.” Toxic masculinity as an ideological system negatively codes vulnerability: it is the female-sexed body, the feminine mystique, the “weak,” and the victim. I am all of these things in concert and in conflict.
I walk because when I do, I am reminded that I am also surviving and I am not alone. Victims keep living. We are here. We exist. We walk together. And we walk for the ones who didn’t and who cannot and we walk for a different world.
Lindsay Sidders is participating in White Ribbon’s Walk a Mile in Her Shoes, presented by Town Shoes Ltd, taking place on Wednesday May 30, 2018 at 12noon, David Pecaut Square, 215 King Street West, in Toronto. Visit the Walk website 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.
A few years ago, I was speaking with one of my mentors about some of the hard times I experienced growing up, and some I am currently dealing with. He listened carefully, then asked me to be more vulnerable.
“I’ll talk about anything” I said. “What do you want to know?” He told me it wasn’t about the facts I was already sharing, it was much deeper than that – the real stuff, the stuff that makes you uncomfortable to share out loud.
He said if I wanted to have the impact I was capable of on my clients and students, and to be the kind of dad and role model I needed to be, I’d have to get comfortable with being vulnerable.
I soon realized how much I had been holding in for more than half my life – the pain, sadness, anger, and fear – all because I never learned how do things any differently. And for some reason, all the real, human emotions that men feel every day are ones we’re taught to keep to ourselves.
Sure, we can talk about sports, women, money, and power, but that’s as deep as we’re allowed to go, because “real men” don’t talk about their feelings.
I grew up watching Arnold courageously battle the Predator and John Maclean save the day in Die Hard, so my idea of masculinity was the same one so many of us learned. There’s an image we try so desperately to live up to – an image that surrounds us and makes us think that being ‘macho’ is a badge of honour when it’s really killing us from the inside out.
It wasn’t until I started talking openly about the ‘uncomfortable’ stuff that I understood how much of giant weight I had been carrying around, and how much it was holding me back. At first, I was afraid sharing my “flaws” would make me look weak, but the truth is I’ve never felt stronger. I was worried being vulnerable would push people away, but they keep getting closer. And the more I let down the shield I thought I needed to protect me all these years, the more people are thanking me, just for being honest and real.
I have a young son and another on the way. Being a dad is the greatest honour and responsibility I’ve ever experienced, and while the words I speak matter, I know the example I set matters so much more. In my work as a mentor with youth, I guide teens and young adults to be their greatest selves as they discover who they really are and how much they’re capable of – but that requires the kind of real trust that only comes with being vulnerable.
If that means being comfortable with the uncomfortable, then that’s what I need to do. And if that’s what it takes for the next generation of young men to be happier, healthier, more self-aware leaders than ever before, I’d say it’s something we all need to encourage.
As dads, mentors, and role models, our job isn’t to be perfect “heroes”, Arnold, or John Maclean, but daring to lead by example takes courage. And there’s nothing more courageous than putting down the shield, being vulnerable, and embracing who you really are.
As a role model, one small thing you can do is to participate in White Ribbon’s event, Walk a Mile in Her Shoes, on Wednesday May 30 at David Pecaut Square. Show your solidarity to end gender-based violence, and promote healthy masculinities- which are rooted in vulnerability, empathy and courage to get out of the “manbox.” You can register here. Walk a Mile is proudly presented by Town Shoes Ltd.
Cory Chadwick is a thought leader, speaker, mentor, and founder of The Personal Greatness Project, helping teens, young adults, teams, and organizations realize their personal greatness and thrive in a quickly changing world.
For more information, check out: www.personalgreatnessproject.com and follow @thepersonalgreatnessproject
The #MeToo and #TimesUp movements have illuminated the unequal ways that attention is paid to survivors (and perpetrators) of different economic circumstances, racialized status, gender identities and sexualities, and abilities. While many highly public movements play out in real time on an international scale, a new generation of history scholars is grappling with how to handle sexual violence in the past - in their classrooms and research projects - and in assessing how historical inequities intersect with sexual violence in the present.
Historians and scholars need to recognize that sexual violence cannot be treated “simply” as an academic subject, no matter how “distantly” in the past. People in our classrooms – students and teachers alike – enter learning environments with a wide range of identities and personal histories, including lived experiences of sexual violence. To create accommodating classrooms, teachers must not only commit to a rigorous analysis of historical ‘perpetrators’ and ‘victims’ of sexual violence, but most especially attend to the real effects of teaching historical sexual violence in a classroom full of students who are statistically at risk of being or becoming either and both perpetrator and victim of sexual violence.
The discipline of history has tended to concern itself with such concepts as “critical distance” and “rational discourse.” One unfortunate result of this is that, often, the historian teaching episodes of sexual violence pays more attention to their historical subjects than to the lived realities of their students and their experiences of gender-based discrimination and violence.The gap between historical analysis and empathy can be cavernous. Emotions and feelings, those of our subjects, and most crucially, of our students, must be a source of knowledge going forward. Teachers must acknowledge the historical exclusions and impacts of colonialism, the systemic power dynamics, and the institutional barriers that make our classrooms safe and comfortable for certain students, to the detriment and discomfort of the historically marginalized.
History must meet empathy.
History teachers must be assertive in addressing the barriers to teaching sexual violence and to meeting the goal of generating accessible classrooms. Teachers must be sensitive to students’ diverse experiences but still investigate the prevalence of sexual violence throughout history with disciplinary rigour. Further, we must act resolutely to restructure the classroom to accommodate students and instructors with experiences of trauma.
Some of the barriers to these goals emerge from the structure of our curricula and classrooms. For example, instructors (at any level) typically receive no training that prepares them for dealing with trauma in the classroom, a crucial consideration for handling a topic like sexual violence.
Other barriers are societal: the apparent growth of “men’s rights” and “free speech” advocacy on university campuses—trends that find their way into lecture halls and seminar rooms—pose particular problems for teaching assistants who are women, racialized, queer, differently abled, or are otherwise marginalized.
We need to be open minded but firm in our approaches to dissolving these barriers; the solution to these problems is absolutely not to remove sexual violence materials from our courses. On the contrary, this vital subject deserves serious historical analysis. But sexual violence must not be treated as “just another topic.” Trauma-informed approaches can help make the classroom safer and more welcoming for students, teaching assistants, and instructors.
When we treat sexual violence as simply an omnipresent “part of history,” it hampers students’ ability to question why these events occurred in specific times and places. There is a danger of assuming an innate human tendency to commit sexual violence, instead of understanding the phenomenon with its social, cultural, and political contexts. One consistent justification for sexual violence in history is the assumption of male desire, a harmful assumption that occludes the social factors that make sexual violence so prevalent and erases the experiences of men as survivors of sexual violence. By situating sexual violence in its specific historical context, we can begin to see that sexual violence is dependent on societal factors that perpetuate unequal power relations. It is incumbent upon historians to do this work—it is not only about advocacy in our own time; it is also about doing more diligent work to shed light on the lived experiences of historical people.
Attention to the issues outlined above is long overdue. The university is intended to be a place of innovation and community. As historians and members of this community, we need to commit ourselves to finding solutions to the difficulties of teaching sexual violence, and to creating a community that is more inclusive and therefore more creative, original, and inspired.
Written by Joel Dickau, Edward Dunsworth, William Fysh, Benjamin Lukas, Kari North, Maris Rowe-Mcculloch, Lindsay C. Sidders, Hana Suckstorff, Nathaniel Thomas, Erica Toffoli, and Spirit-Rose Waite. With intellectual contributions from Kaitlyn Carter, Sanchia deSouza, and Zixian Liu.
The authors wish to acknowledge the land on which the University of Toronto operates. For thousands of years it has been the traditional land of the Huron-Wendat, the Seneca, and most recently, the Mississaugas of the Credit River. Today, this meeting place is still the home to many Indigenous people from across Turtle Island and we are grateful to have the opportunity to work on this land.
On behalf of the entire White Ribbon organization, we extend our condolences to the families and friends of the victims, those injured, and everyone affected by this terrible tragedy.
While the true motive has yet to be revealed, we are aware of and actively monitoring preliminary reports tying the horrific actions of this individual to deep hatred and misogyny towards women.
White Ribbon was created in 1991 as a direct response to the Montreal Massacre, where a young man with similar hateful beliefs murdered 14 women at L’Ecole Polytechnique in Montreal. Sadly, there have been many horrible acts of hatred and violence towards women in North America and all across the globe since our founding. This reinforces why the work we do is so important. These atrocities are symptomatic of the deep inequalities that exist between men and women in our society.
Just as we did in response to the Montreal Massacre, along with any act of violence or discrimination against women, we call on all men to speak out.
To examine their own actions and beliefs.
To challenge hateful and misogynist beliefs and attitudes.
To support and stand in solidarity with survivors of violence.
To educate their peers and young people around them - especially young men and boys - about gender equality.
To model respect for women, girls, and people of all genders.
To recognize their part in eradicating all forms of gender-based violence.
Please do your part and sign the White Ribbon Pledge. Add your name to the list of thousands of men who have already pledged to never commit, condone or remain silent about gender-based violence.
Executive Director, White Ribbon
Humberto is the executive director at White Ribbon
Over the past six months, thousands of women (and some men too) have courageously come forward to share their personal stories of sexual violence and harassment in the workplace and beyond. While these stories are not new, and some survivors have been quietly sharing their experiences for decades, what is new is the social tipping point forcing the media and society to pay close attention to what’s happening. Violence in our homes and communities is a tragic reality - and women and their children bear the brunt of that violence. In Ontario alone, 15 women and children have lost their lives to interpersonal violence since January 1 of this year (OAITH, 2018), while across Canada, a woman is murdered by her partner on average every six days (Statistics Canada, 2014).
As a dad of three teenage boys, I take a keen interest in continually engaging them in dialogue about the importance of consent, healthy relationships, equitable treatment, and the links between gender-based violence, discrimination, and healthy masculinities. I am invested in helping them being strong allies to women and girls and people of all genders presently and in their adult years. As parents we want what is best for our children. Our role in raising strong, gender-equitable kids can be part of our legacy and can help us bring about transformative generational change.
Ignoring this violence will no longer be tolerated
Since late 2017, many men have been held accountable for their abuse of power through the sexual harassment of co-workers - often direct reports. Employers and organizations have both a responsibility and opportunity to foster a culture of support and safety so that employees are able to report inappropriate and harmful behaviour. And in order to do that effectively, they must reinforce their policies and procedures to ensure survivors are supported, perpetrators are held accountable, and everyone is aware of what they can do to make a difference. The vast majority of this violence is committed by men, therefore it's crucial that men and boys speak out and stand in solidarity with women, girls, and people of all genders to help change attitudes and behaviours.
Amplifying a healthy vision of masculinity
At White Ribbon, we have worked from day one to examine the root causes of gender-based violence and fuel a cultural shift that brings us a future without violence. Now, more than ever, the work we do to engage men and boys in what healthy masculinities means, and how it embodies the best qualities of being human, needs to be amplified. We have witnessed an incredible evolution in the definition of gender and the need to be inclusive of non-conforming and non-binary identities.
I’m delighted to share some of the important initiatives the White Ribbon team has been working on to ensure men are part of a future that is safe and equitable for all people.
What to expect from White Ribbon in the Spring of 2018
Much more work needs to be done
Engaging men and young boys in gender-based violence prevention is challenging work that brings about positive solutions. That work is still small-scale, time-limited, and often doesn't include the needed resources to ensure sustainability and crucial transformative change. You can help us by speaking out, getting involved, donating, and advocating for culture change in your schools, communities, workplaces, and organizations. Remember to share your allyship journey with us @WhiteRibbon. Together, we will build a future without gender-based violence!