White Ribbon Day

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2003 National Women's Conference
7 February 2003

Conference notes that In 1999 the United Nations officially recognised White Ribbon Day on 25th November each year, as International Day Against Violence Towards Women. It is the beginning of 16 days of activism worldwide – days which include World Aids Day (1st December), and Human Rights Day (10th December). In the UK, White Ribbon Day is co-co-ordinated by Womankind, a woman’s human rights and development organisation working nationally and internationally. It is a non government organisation with special consultative status with the Economic and Social Council of the United Nations and has responsibilities for the promotion of White Ribbon Day in the United Kingdom.

The first White Ribbon Day (International Day Against Violence Against Women) was launched on 25th November 1991, by a group of men in Canada after the brutal mass shooting of 14 female students at the University of Montreal. Womenkind launched the first White Ribbon Day in the United Kingdom in 1998.

The purpose of White Ribbon Day is to draw attention to the continuing high levels of violence which women suffer. Violence against women causes more deaths and disability among women aged 15-44 than cancer, malaria, traffic accidents or war.

The White Ribbon is a symbol of hope for a world where women and girls can live free from fear of violence. Wearing the ribbon is about challenging the acceptability of violence. On the day, women are encouraged to organise activities, which say that ‘enough is enough’. In many parts of the world men have formed groups (Men Against Violence Against Women) to work with and take a lead from women’s organisations and groups to challenge violence and abuse against women worldwide.

Religious, cultural and political fundamentalism and bigotry that lead to conflict and war, thrive in nations with not only bad records on human rights but poor levels of gender equality. Womenkind is dedicated to improving the status of women world wide, not only by challenging violence against women but also by promoting of the four literacies of word literacy, money literacy, body literacy and civil literacy.

The definition of violence in the United Nations “Declaration on the Elimination of Violence Against Women” include the following:

1)Physical and psychological violence, in the home or otherwise;


3)Sexual violence, whether rape, marital rape, abuse of female children, sexual harassment;

4)Violations of women’s rights during armed conflict-rape, murder, sexual slavery and forced pregnancy;


6)Forced prostitution and trafficking of women;


8)Dowry-related violence and so called honour crimes;


10)Female genital mutilations;


12)Forced sterilisations, forced abortion, forced use of contraception;


14)Female infanticide and prenatal sex selection;


16)Physical, psychological and sexual violence ignored, condoned or perpetrated by the state;


10)Any threat or act of violence that results in physical, sexual or psychological harm or suffering to women constitutes violence against women.

On each White Ribbon Day we are asked to spread this United Nations message throughout the media, non government, government organisations, trade unions, professional organisations, student groups, corporations, religious institutions on behalf of the Womenkind Organisation.

Conference believes that White Ribbon Day fits very well with UNISON’s own policies and campaign against violence against women.

If women in UNISON adopted White Ribbon Day, it would provide a rallying point for us to organise events, to reinforce our Raise the Roof Campaign against domestic violence and support international campaigns.


a)agrees to adopt and promote White Ribbon Day as an annual event in our calendar,

b)instructs National Women’s Committee to seek to work with Womankind to provide materials to regions and branches about what they can do to support it each year.