I find it quite perplexing that the White Ribbon Campaign in the UK has decided to make November 25th White Ribbon Day since women’s groups have been using it as a day of protest since 1981. Actually, I find it quite disrespectful to women in the UK who have been protesting on November 25th for years and to the men in Canada who created the White Ribbon Campaign as a way for men to take responsibility for male violence against women in light of the massacre of 14 women at the Ecole Polytechnique in Montreal on December 6th 1989.
This is the statement from the feminist organisation of Nia on why they are talking about The International Day to End Violence Against Women and not White Ribbon Day. I agree with it completely. Today should be about women’s voices discussing and debating violence against women. Men do have a part in these debates but they don’t help when they co-opt a day created for women by women. The White Ribbon Day should be December 6th: a day when women mourn 14 women murdered just for being women and a day when men take responsibility for male violence against women.
Women’s activists have marked November 25 as a day to fight violence against women since 1981. In July 1981, women from across Latin America came together in Columbia. They decided to hold an annual day of protest on 25th November for this International Day Against Violence Against Women in memory of the Mirabel sisters. Patria, Maria Teresa and Minerva Mirabel were assassinated in a ’car accident’ in the Dominican Republic in 1960. They were political activists, killed for their involvement in efforts to overthrow the fascist government of Rafael Trujillo.
In 1991, the first White Ribbon Campaign was launched by a group of men in Canada after the mass shooting of 14 female students at the University of Montreal.
On December 17, 1999, the United Nations General Assembly designated 25 November as the International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women. The UN invited governments, international organisations and NGOs to organise activities designated to raise public awareness of violence against women on this day.
The White Ribbon Campaign has become a global campaign to ensure men take more responsibility for reducing the level of violence against women. We support men’s acknowledgement of their role in ending violence against women but we don’t want men’s contribution to overwrite that of women and therefore, nia’s focus is on 25th November as the International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women.