Dove Logo

Home ] Objectives ] Documents ] History ] National Organizations ] National Campaigns ] National Reports ]
[ Men's Campaign ] Regional Products ] Links ] [ Contact ][ Castellano ]


National Organizations
National Campaign
National Reports
Men's Campaign
Regional Products





Click for UNIFEM Home Page
Click for UNDP Home Page
Click for UNICEF Home Page
Click for UNFPA Home Page
Click for UNHCR Home Page
Click for UNHCHR Home Page
Click for UNAIDS Home Page
Click for ECLAC Home Page



Men's Campaigns

whiteribbonlogo.jpg (3912 bytes)The White Ribbon Campaign

Men Working To End Men's Violence Against Women

 What Every Man Can Do To Help End Men's Violence Against Women.

1. Listen to women...learn from women.

The path starts with listening.

Who knows better about violence against women than women who experience it? A huge study released by Statistics Canada in 1993 tells us that one in two Canadian women has experienced physical or sexual violence-- violence that falls into our criminal code. In addition, many women experience sexual harassment at work or at school.

Learn about violence by asking a woman who trusts you how violence has affected her life. Don't insist that she tell you. After all, according to the same study, 22% of women haven't told anyone about that violent experience.

Ask your wife or girlfriend, your sister or mother, or a friend. Then sit back and listen. Your role isn't to challenge her on the details, nor to debate whether something really should have bothered her or not. It is to listen. Simply trust that if she tells you something hurt her, then it did hurt her.

And listen to women's groups such as your local rape crisis centre, women's shelter, or workplace women's committee. They have a wealth of accumulated experience and knowledge. Talk to them. Read their publications. Find out about their work. Contribute financially to them. Learn from them.

2. Learn about the nature and extent of the problem.

Violence against women can be physical and sexual assault, sexual harassment, psychological abuse, or emotional abuse. Not all violence leaves visible scars. Emotional violence includes regular subjection to demeaning jokes, domineering forms of behaviour, and sexual harassment.

Some forms of violence have a greater physical or emotional impact than others. But all forms of violence contribute to the very real fear and suffering that women in our society endure. Three out of four women in your neighbourhood fear using public transport after dark; only two in five feel safe walking in their own neighbourhood after dark. Basic rights that men enjoy are the source of fear for the majority of Canadian women.

The fear, though, is greatest in women's own homes. A common myth is that most violence against women is committed by strangers. In fact, women are most at risk from men they know--husbands, boyfriends, fathers, relatives, employers, and care givers.

Most men love and care about women. And yet almost one in three women (29%) who have been married or lived in a common-law relationship have experienced criminal violence at the hands of their male partners. Every seven minutes a sexual assault is committed in Canada; 90% of the victims are women.

Violence against women occurs in every region of Canada, among the rich, the poor, and the middle class, and among those of every nationality, religion, and race. It is a problem for us all.

(All statistics from Statistics Canada, "The Violence Against Women Survey," The Daily, Nov. 18, 1993, except this reference to sexual assault which is from House of Commons, "The War Against Women," Ottawa, 1991.)

3. Learn why some men are violent.

Men are not naturally violent. There have been societies with little or no violence. Studies over the past century have found that half of the tribal societies studied had little or no violence against women, against children, or among men.

Furthermore, even today, the majority of men are never or are rarely physically violent. Levels of violence vary greatly from country to country.

Some men learn to be violent. Men's violence is a result of the way many men learn to express their masculinity in relationships with women, children, and other men. Many men learn to think of power as the ability to dominate and control the people and the world around them. Although the majority of men are not physically violent, this way of thinking makes the use of violence seem acceptable to many.

Most individual acts of men's violence are a pathetic attempt to assert control over women, children, or other men. Paradoxically, most violent acts by men are a sign of weakness, insecurity, and lack of self-esteem combined with a capacity for physical or verbal domination and a feeling that they should be superior and in control.

Women are not immune from committing acts of violence. Women's groups have spoken out against the problem of violence against children, which is committed by both women and men, although most sexual abuse of children is by men. Women too can be violent against men or other women, but it is far less common than violence by men.

In 40% of violent incidents, men have been drinking alcohol. The figure is even higher when the violence was by a man the woman knows. This might be because alcohol unleashes feelings, fears, rage, and insecurities that some men, cut off from their feelings, cannot handle.

Alcohol doesn't cause violence. Genes don't cause violence. Ultimately, it is the attempts by some men to dominate women, other men or groups of men, and adults' attempts to dominate children that are the reasons for most of the violence that surrounds us. Violence is a way of asserting power, privilege, and control.

4. Wear a white ribbon during White Ribbon Week as a personal pledge never to commit, condone or remain silent about men's violence against women.

Change will only happen if we each accept personal responsibility to make sure it happens. This means that as men who care about the women in our lives, we will take responsibility to help make sure women live in a country free from fear and violence.

Wearing a white ribbon during White Ribbon Week is your personal pledge never to commit violence against women. It is a personal pledge not to condone acts of violence, not to make excuses for perpetrators of violence, and not to think that any woman "asks for it."

It is a pledge not to remain silent. It is a pledge to challenge the men around us to act to end violence.

Wearing a ribbon provokes discussion, debate, and soul-searching among the men around us. The White Ribbon is a catalyst for discussion. It is a catalyst for change.

5. Challenge men who use sexist language and jokes that degrade women.

"It was only a joke....Can't you take a joke?"

Sexist jokes and language help create a climate where forms of violence and abuse have too long been accepted. Jokes or comments that degrade women aren't neutral, for they reflect the reality of a society that has historically placed women in a second class position. By reflecting this reality they once again put women "in their place" even if that isn't the intention.

One of the most difficult things for men who oppose violence against women is to learn to challenge other men. To challenge men to drop sexist language from their vocabulary. To challenge men who talk lightly of violence against women. And to challenge men who engage in violence.

6. Learn to identify and oppose sexual harassment and violence in your workplace, school and family.

Sexual harassment refers to unwanted sexual advances or to sexually-oriented remarks or behaviour that are unwelcome by another person. Sexual harassment poisons the environment. Generally speaking, no one form of behaviour is always sexually harassing-- the key word is "unwanted." Flirting, a sexual reference, an erotic picture, a joke may be perfectly fine if it is consensual and wanted.

Harassment is ultimately about inequalities of power. The same action done by a woman might not bother a man because, in general, our society has not given women power over men at the workplace, the school, or in the community.

Some provinces and many workplaces now have harassment codes or refer to harassment in their human rights codes. Under these rules, we are expected to know about what forms of behaviour constitute sexual or racial harassment. Like any laws, ignorance of the rules is no excuse.

Men can join women in opposing sexual harassment by supporting efforts in our workplaces and schools to do training to create a healthy and productive environment.

7. Support your local shelter for battered women, rape crisis centre, and other women's programmes.

Across Canada dedicated women have worked to develop support services for women who are survivors of men's violence. They have set up shelters for battered women, rape crisis centres, transition houses, and drop-in centres--women escaping violent situations depend on these services.

These and other women's organizations deserve men's support and our financial backing. That's why we encourage local White Ribbon campaigns to raise money for local women's programs.

8. Examine how your own behaviour might contribute to the problem.

If you've ever been physically violent against a woman, if you've committed sexual assault, if you've hit, pushed, threatened, kicked your spouse or girlfriend, then you are part of the problem. One in ten women in Canada have experienced this kind of violence from men in the past year.

If this happened long ago admit what you did was wrong and make amends if possible. But if your violent behaviour has any chance of continuing in the future, then you urgently need to get help getting to the root of your problem. Don't wait until it happens again. Please act today.

The majority of men aren't physically violent. But let's all examine ways we might try to control women. Do we dominate conversations? Do we crowd into their space? Do we put them down?

All men are not responsible for committing acts of violence. But all men must take responsibility for ending all forms of violence.

9. Work towards long-term solutions.

Ending violence against women won't happen over-night. Real solutions are truly long-term solutions. This is because men's violence against women is rooted in inequalities between men and women, and in the way men learn to be men.

Legal changes to combat men's violence against women (such as Canada's law on rape--that "no means no" and that it takes a "yes" to mean yes) are very important.

But laws are not enough. Let's work together to change our attitudes and behaviour. Let's challenge the institutions which perpetuate inequality between women and men.

Let's help men be better men by getting rid of our suits of armour, that is, attitudes which equate masculinity with the power to control. Let's make positive changes in our relationships with women, children, and other men.

Changes in attitude, behaviour, and institutions take time. And so we must look at how we raise future generations. We must teach our children, by example, that all forms of violence are unacceptable, and that for boys to become men, they do not need to control or dominate either women, men, or children.

10. Get involved with the White Ribbon Campaign's educational efforts.

The White Ribbon Campaign (WRC) is the largest effort in the world of men working to end men's violence against women. Inspired by the Canadian women's movement, the WRC has in turn inspired men in other countries to start similar efforts. The WRC is a registered charitable organization. It is a grass-roots effort with donated office space and donated equipment. We rely mainly on volunteers in our central office and in communities across Canada. Because the purpose of the campaign is for men to take responsibility for working to end violence against women, it is an organization of men. But we greatly appreciate the help and support of women in many communities in getting local campaigns off the ground.

In addition to organizing White Ribbon Week, local supporters do other things during the year:

  • Give talks in schools.
  • Raise money for women's groups and for the educational work of the WRC.
  • Organize events around Father's Day to support positive roles for men and the importance of men being care givers and nurturers.
  • Organize Valentines Day dances to raise money and spread a message about building healthy relationships.

We encourage you to write or to call us today to receive information on starting up a White Ribbon effort in your community, school, workplace, or place of worship.

Because we have never received government funding, 100% of our budget has been made up of contributions from individuals as well as trade unions, companies, places of worship and professional associations. Please give your financial support to the work of the White Ribbon Campaign.



women are constantly abused at home, at work, or in public places by men, and that we men do nothing to change.

…women who are very close to us are in danger of being abused.

…girls and boys are also the object of different forms of mistreatment and violence.

…thousands of men suffer injuries or die violently at the hands of other men. Many others end up alone or in prison.

All of this turns violence into a serious social and public health problem with grave consequences for the physical and emotional welfare of all men and women.


…we are behaving violently when we hit someone but also when we scream, deride, depreciate, sexually agress or when we oblige women to do something they don't want to do.

…Violence from men towards women is not natural.

…As men we have the capacity to relate in a respectful, democratic way and not with violence against women. We need to look for responsible ways to resolve conflict through dialogue and negotiation.

…A life without violence is healthier and more enjoyable.


· I renounce all forms of violence against women and I commit to establishing equal relations with women as well as with other men.

· I commit to breaking the silence and the complicity with other men who behave violently against women.


1. Pass along this manifesto to other men and institutions and comment on it.

2. Look for outlets and ways to transmit this manifesto by means of fliers, pamphlets or anything else.

3. Organize activities that support and strengthen non-violence against women in: your house, school, work or group of friends, especially during the last week of November.

4. Collaborate with the initiatives of other groups or institutions in favor of non-violence towards women.


Oaxaca, México, octubre de 1998


In order to open up a space for reflection, in 1993 a group of Mexicans created the Collective of Men For Egalitarian Relations in Mexico City (Coriac).

That same year in Managua (Nicaragua), the group Men Against Violence, began to take on its inicial form.  The experiences of these groups were part of the meeting "Gender Equality in Latin America and the Caribbean: challenges to masculine identities", organized in June of 1998, in Santiago, Chile, by the Department of Latin American Social Sciences (FLASCO), with the sponsorship of UNFPA, of the MacArthur and Ford Foundations.

The idea was to reflect on the accepted concepts of masculinity that impoverish the lives of men and are oppressive to women, and to take theoretical steps towards a new paradigm.

The Mexican experience began with reflection, in workshops for aggressive men. There, according to the director Eduardo Liendro, "we support them, but at the same time we are interested in making them responsible for their actions, allowing them to find a way out from the spiral of violence in which they are immersed while looking for new ways to relate with their families.

Aside from the practices, research is undertaken which allows them to find new methods and focuses on dealing with the subject and developing campaigns through the media. In 1997, for example, they produced the radio program "Talón de Aquiles" ("Aquilles Heel"), an important forum for debate about masculinity, violence and paternity. -It is important to encourage men to raise the children, to participate in domestic chores, and even to explore the relationships with their own parents in order to better that with their own families, says Liendro.

Together with the NGOs, womens' groups and political groupsmunst constantly lobby, at a parliamentary and governmental level, to change laws in that area. They have been successful: in 1977 a domestic violence law was passed at the federal level, which for the first time recognized the necessity to implement policies of work with abusive men.

In the future, Coriac, without leaving aside the workshops and reflection, will work on the sensitization and training of public servants, educators and health workers, so that they incorporate in their work, the dimension of male violence.

Meanwhile, in Nicaragua, twelve men are thinking to themselves. They are searching "to construct gender relations based on justice and equality", under the slogan of "Violence impoverishes the life of men".  In 1993 they began to debate the subject of masculinity, encouraged by womens' groups that already had experience with gender issues. Out of those encounters the Mens' Group Against Violence, arose in Managua.

Its primary objective, as its young coordinator, student of sociologist Jairo Sequeira, recalls, was to "create a space where men could speak about such things that normally are not spoken of". Among others, issues about masculinity and the role of the male in society, appeared, until they became centered on the issue of violence. Now they work "towards the change of attitudes, values and macho behavior of men, with the objective of building gender relationships based on justice and equality", comments Sequeira.

They meet in discussion workshops, open to whoever desires to attend.

.. "Because all men, regardless of profession or social condition, have machista attitudes and a sexist position towards women and children," recognizes the coordinator.

One of their principal activities was the promotion of a national meeting in 1997 to speak about masculilnity and which men of urban as well as rural sectors of the country, attended. It wasn't an easy task, because, according to Sequeira, the Nicaraguans, are "rather reactionary when it comes to confronting themselves and the issues that affect them". It is the womens' organizations which have welcomed their plans and ideas with the greatest approval..Top of Page


UNDP Against Violence Home Page

For more information, please contact Aparna Mehrotra, Focal Point for Women, Tel: (212)963-6828 Fax: (212) 963-9545, e-mail:

Management and direction: Aparna Mehrotra
Website  design
: Lola Salas
Writing, editing& proofing: Aparna Mehrotra, Dana Burde, Rini Banerjee and Tanaz Pardiwala
Graphic: Joan Miró
(detail) from folder by Isis International