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!