White Ribbon Campaign

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White Ribbon Campaign
FormationNovember 1991 (November 1991)
FoundersJack Layton, Ron Sluser, Michael Kaufman[1]
PurposeEnding violence against women
  • Toronto Canada
Executive Director
Humberto Carolo
Mona Mitchell (Chair), Jeff Feiner (Past Chair), Vipin Rikhi (Treasurer), Chris Langdon (Secretary), Kelly Davis, Mary Pompili, Sheamus Murphy, Joel Marans, Louie Surdi

The White Ribbon Campaign (WRC) is a global movement of men and boys working to end male violence against women and girls. It was formed by a group of pro-feminist men in London, Ontario, in November 1991 as a response to the École Polytechnique massacre of female students by Marc Lépine in 1989. The campaign was intended to raise awareness about the prevalence of male violence against women, with the ribbon symbolizing "the idea of men giving up their arms".[2][3][4] Active in over 60 countries, the movement seeks to promote healthy relationships, gender equity, and a compassionate vision of masculinity.[5]


The historical context of this day was an instance of misogyny which occurred at the École Polytechnique in Montreal, Quebec, Canada on 6 December 1989 and referred to as the Montreal Massacre. The massacre resulted when twenty-five-year-old Marc Lépine slaughtered 14 women because of his hatred toward women. Much of their work centres around gender violence prevention, which includes educating and mentoring young men about issues such as violence and gender equality. Men and boys are encouraged to wear white ribbons as a symbol of their opposition to violence against women. They are particularly encouraged to wear these during White Ribbon week, which starts on November the 25th, which is the UN Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women.[5]

The White Ribbon Campaign is active in over 60 nations across the world, including Canada, UK,[6] Pakistan, Italy and Australia. Each White Ribbon chapter works as a separate entity and with its own governance.

White Ribbon Australia

In 2018 for Australia, the day was moved from 25 November to 23 November to become a specific campaign day separate to the international day, and expanded to encompass violence against children.[7] Businesses are able to attain a "white ribbon accredited workplace", valid for three years.[8]

On 3 October 2019, the Australian arm of the movement, White Ribbon Australia, was placed into liquidation after posting a net loss of AU$840,000 in its financial reports.[9][10] By March 2020 a Western Australia-based community service organisation bought White Ribbon Australia, with the White Ribbon Canada Executive Director welcoming their commitment to collaborating to 'challenge and support men and boys to realise their potential to be part of the solution in ending all forms of gender-based violence'.[11] The new Australian CEO in June 2020 stated an intent to focus more on domestic violence, and move away from being a specific campaign engaging males, to 'involve all Australians'.[12]


In 2014 the men's rights activist organisation A Voice for Men launched whiteribbon.org as a counter to the White Ribbon campaign,[13][14] adopting graphics and language from White Ribbon.[15] It is owned by Erin Pizzey and has the slogan "Stop Violence Against Everyone".[16] Accused of "hijacking" White Ribbon,[17] the site was harshly criticized by Todd Minerson, the former executive director of The White Ribbon Campaign, who described it as "a copycat campaign articulating their archaic views and denials about the realities of gender-based violence".[18] The site presents the claim that domestic violence is a learned behaviour from childhood, perpetrated equally by women and men. The website has faced much criticism, being accused of displaying "anti-feminist propaganda".[3]


Although the WRC was meant to be a men's peer pressure campaign, the activities of the Australian organisation came into question in 2016 and after, with allegations that the day was mostly organised by women, and was an example of slacktivism, rather than an effective means of effecting useful change. It was also alleged that much of the funding raised was being absorbed by administrative costs.[19][20][21] The organisation denied the criticisms, with supporters such as White Ribbon ambassador Matt de Groot challenging the claims.[22][23] Research argued White Ribbon Australia's "failure to articulate the meaning of, both, gender equality and respect is a crucial lack".[24]

In October 2018, White Ribbon Australia made plans to retract its position statement that women "should have complete control over their reproductive and sexual health", moving to an "agnostic" stance to consult with community stakeholders.[25][26] Following criticism of the move, the original position statement was reinstated several hours later.[27] The change in position occurred on the same morning the Parliament of Queensland voted to decriminalise abortion,[28] which came after a lengthy process involving the Queensland Law Reform Commission (QLRC). White Ribbon Australia was referred to in the QLRC's Review of Termination of Pregnancy Laws Report, for its submission supporting the need for "nationally consistent access to safe and legal abortion".[29]


  1. ^ "White Ribbon Campaign: 20 Years Working to End Violence Against Women". michaelkaufman.com. 24 November 2011.
  2. ^ "Men wearing white ribbons". CBC. 27 November 1991. Archived from the original on 29 June 2011. Retrieved 7 March 2007.
  3. ^ a b Filipovic, Jill (24 October 2014). "Why Is an Anti-Feminist Website Impersonating a Domestic Violence Organization?". Cosmopolitan. Hearst Communications. Retrieved 6 December 2014.
  4. ^ Blake, Mariah (January 2015). "Mad Men: Inside the Men's Rights Movement—and the Army of Misogynists and Trolls It Spawned". Mother Jones.
  5. ^ a b "Who We Are". White Ribbon. Archived from the original on 20 December 2014. Retrieved 29 January 2015.
  6. ^ "White Ribbon UK". White Ribbon UK. Retrieved 12 August 2022.
  7. ^ "White Ribbon Day 2018 is moving to 23 November". White Ribbon Australia. 6 September 2018. Retrieved 10 October 2018.
  8. ^ "Workplace Accreditation Program". White Ribbon Australia. 6 September 2018. Retrieved 10 October 2018.
  9. ^ Visentin, Lisa (3 October 2019). "White Ribbon goes into liquidation". The Sydney Morning Herald. Retrieved 3 October 2019.
  10. ^ Loomes, Phoebe (3 October 2019). "Anti domestic violence White Ribbon Australia enters liquidation". news.com.au. Retrieved 3 October 2019.
  11. ^ "Communicare Secures Future for White Ribbon Australia". Communicare. February 2020. Retrieved 30 June 2020.
  12. ^ SIEBERT, Bension (24 June 2020). "White Ribbon's new boss vows to end 'tokenism' in fight against domestic violence". Australian Broadcasting Corporation. Retrieved 30 June 2020.
  13. ^ Browne, Rachel. (4 November 2014). "Domestic violence group White Ribbon Australia in domain name dispute", Sydney Morning Herald. Retrieved 7 July 2015.
  14. ^ Filipovic, Jill. (24 October 2014). "Why Is an Anti-Feminist Website Impersonating a Domestic Violence Organization?", Cosmopolitan. Retrieved 7 July 2015.
  15. ^ McDonough, Katie (23 October 2014). "Men's rights group launches creepy website to co-opt respected anti-violence campaign". Salon.
  16. ^ About WhiteRibbon.org Archived 2016-07-30 at the Wayback Machine: WhiteRibbon.org, owned by domestic violence pioneer Erin Pizzey
  17. ^ Schetzer, Alana. (2 November 2014). "'Fake' White Ribbon website faces legal action", Sydney Morning Herald. Retrieved 7 July 2015.
  18. ^ Minerson, Todd. (23 October 2014). "White Ribbon Copycat Statement Archived 26 October 2014 at the Wayback Machine", White Ribbon. Retrieved 7 July 2015.
  19. ^ Funnell, Nina (24 November 2016). "10 reasons why I will ignore White Ribbon day". The Daily Telegraph (Sydney). Retrieved 10 October 2018.
  20. ^ Arndt, Bettina (11 July 2016). "Why you should never give a cent to White Ribbon". Bettina Arndt. Retrieved 10 October 2018.
  21. ^ Lang, Kylie (23 November 2017). "White Ribbon Day is one big, trendy problem". Courier-Mail (Brisbane). Retrieved 10 October 2018.
  22. ^ Lavoirpierre, Angela (25 November 2016). "White Ribbon defends itself against criticism from women's movement". Australian Broadcasting Corporation. Retrieved 10 October 2018.
  23. ^ de Groot, Max (27 November 2017). "Matt de Groot hits back at White Ribbon critics". Yahoo Lifestyle. Verizon Media. Retrieved 26 October 2018.
  24. ^ Seymour, Kate (26 July 2017). "'Stand up, speak out and act': A critical reading of Australia's White Ribbon campaign". Australian & New Zealand Journal of Criminology. 51: 293–310. doi:10.1177/0004865817722187. Retrieved 10 October 2018.
  25. ^ Henriques-Gomes, Luke (19 October 2018). "White Ribbon Australia reinstates statements backing reproductive rights on website". The Guardian (Australian Edition). Retrieved 22 October 2018.
  26. ^ "Marie Stopes Australia statement on White Ribbon Australia". Marie Stopes Australia. 19 October 2018. Retrieved 22 October 2018. Marie Stopes Australia is profoundly disappointed in White Ribbon Australia's decision to retract its position statement on Women's Reproductive Rights. When White Ribbon Australia released the statement in February 2017 it bravely and rightly revealed the strong link between prevention of violence against women and reproductive autonomy. The decision to retract the statement sends a dangerous message to our community and ignores the growing evidence of strong links between reproductive coercion, family violence, intimate partner violence and sexual violence.
  27. ^ "White Ribbon Australia maintains the current position on women's reproductive rights". White Ribbon Australia. 19 October 2018. Retrieved 22 October 2018.
  28. ^ Horn, Allyson (18 October 2018). "Abortion legalised in Queensland after historic vote in Parliament". Australian Broadcasting Corporation. Retrieved 22 October 2018.
  29. ^ Queensland Law Reform Commission, 2018, Review of Termination of Pregnancy Laws Report, Retrieved 26 October 2018

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