In 2006 an ‘Involving Men’ conference held in Dundee discussed if and how men should become involved in helping to end violence against women. A decision was taken to follow the lead of Canada by forming a White Ribbon Campaign in Scotland. In Canada, White Ribbon emanated from a group of men who recognised the absence of male voices in the national response following a horrific sexist based gun assault.
White Ribbon Scotland formed and became a charity in 2010 aiming to change male attitudes and behaviour which condone gender based violence. Over 14,000 people have now signed our White Ribbon pledge.
White Ribbon Scotland recognises the gendered analysis of men’s violence against women (VAW) and that gender inequality is both a cause and a consequence. Through training volunteer ‘SPEAKERS’ to speak to men across Scotland we set out to encourage them to stop seeing VAW as a women’s rights issue and recognise it as a human rights issue. It follows that it is everyone’s responsibility to bring about change and we talk to men about the multitude of things they can do to be allies in the efforts to address VAW.
White Ribbon Scotland asks men to sign our pledge stating: “I pledge never to commit, condone or remain silent about men’s violence against women in all its forms.”
Most men do not commit violence against women and can readily sign up to the first part, however the pledge encourages reflection on the attitudes and behaviour of men which condone VAW. Ultimately men’s silence over the years has meant that there has been very little peer pressure to bring about the changes required among men. We aim to alter that through a grassroots approach which ‘permits’ men to speak up and creates an increasingly effective alteration to men’s opinions and understanding.
White Ribbon Scotland has over 200 volunteers (Speakers, Coordinators, Champions and Ambassadors) spread across a dozen different geographical areas of Scotland. This includes a number of Prison Officers working throughout the Scottish Prison Service. These are the men and women who are actively engaging with men to further this grassroots campaign.
They accept pledges and pass on learning in respect of the different aspects of violence against women, gender stereotyping, gender equality, the background to our campaign, what men can do to encourage changes in attitudes and behaviour in addition to Bystander Theory and how it can be applied in everyday lives. We welcome statements of interest from across all of Scotland from those wishing to volunteer.
Stirling, Fife, Glasgow, Glasgow Kelvin College and Dumfries and Galloway have all attained White Ribbon Status following projects designed to involve more men in addressing violence against women. The Toolkit they worked to is now recommended through the Equally Safe in Higher Education project.
Encouraging signs noted during our training days indicate a significant increase over the last four years in men’s understanding of coercive control.
We are members of the Scottish Government Cross Party Group on Men’s Violence Against Women and Girls and are represented on the Government Steering Group developing ‘Key Messages for Young People on Healthy Relationships and Consent’ for those working with young people. We also sit on the Steering Group for ‘The Write to End VAW Awards’ led by Zero Tolerance and are working closely in an effort to reach more men through the associated bursary.
If you will never commit, condone or remain silent about men’s violence against women please sign our pledge at http://www.whiteribbonscotland.org.uk/makepledge.
If you want to help bring about gender equality and an end to violence against women in Scotland please join White Ribbon Scotland by volunteering. Contact our Campaign Director Davy Thompson.