The purpose of the contest is to select and award the man who had a unique contribution in helping women via his reaction to various forms of violence and discrimination against women. Candidates are to be put forward by aggrieved women, employees of institution and non-governmental bodies and other persons who will present the contributions of the candidate. The White Ribbon would be granted to men employed by support institution (charities, social assistance institutions and other support institutions), uniformed forces employees and men privately engaged in helping aggrieved women. Kazimierz Walijewski and Tomasz Pietrzak are the initiators behind the idea. The idea of the award corresponds to the White Ribbon Campaign initiated in 1991 by a group of men in Canada on the 2nd anniversary of the Montreal Massacre. Wearing a white ribbon would be a symbol of men’s opposition to violence against women.
On December 6, 1989, in the building of polytechnique, the antifeminist Marc Lepine shot to death 14 women and wounded 13 other persons because – as he explained – women shall not graduate from engineering studies. The victims of the brutal murder were Genevieve Bergeron, Helene Colgan, Nathalie Croteau, Barbara Daigneault, Anne-Marie Edward, Maud Haviernick, Barbara Klucznik-Widajewicz (Polish), Maryse Laganiere, Maryse Leclair, Anne-Marie Lemay, Sonia Pelletier, Michele Richard, Annie St-Arneault.
In the year of 1991, on the second anniversary of the Montreal Massacre, a handful of men initiated the White Ribbon Campaign. With only six weeks of preparation, 100,000 men across Canada wore a white ribbon. The same year, government of Canada declared 6 December as the Canada’s National Day of Remembrance and Action on Violence Against Women. By wearing a white ribbon a men declares not to use, tolerate nor turn the blind eye to violence against women or girls.
The White Ribbon Campaign is held during the international campaign of 16 days to declare his opposition to gender-related violence, which takes place around the world from November 25th to December 10th. Over a thousand organisations from all over the world engage in various events in order to commemorate women – victims of violence. The above mentioned organisations try to develop social awareness of the fact that gender-related violence qualifies as human rights violation.
In 1999, the United Nations declared 25th November the International Day for the Eradication of Violence Against Women, commemorating 25th November 1960, when dictator Rafael Leonidas Trujillo of the Dominican Republich ordered to murder the Mirabal sisters (Patria Mercedes, Minerva Argentina and Antonia Maria Teresa ), female human rights activists. 10th December is also a UN-declared Human Rights Day.
During the period embracing the two very important women’s rights dates, every year in several dozen countries the White Ribbon Campaign is launched, which is perceived as the declaration of support for the cause of of aggrieved women. Police and prosecution statistics show that the majority of aggrieved persons in family includes women and children whereas 95% of offenders are men. Declaring oneself for the cause of the aggrieved is a sign of moral and psychological support for women. Simultaneously it shows that not all men are violent in their relationships, that many of them reprove violence and are in favour of its social stigmatisation. The White Ribbon being a symbol of disapproval of violence becomes more and more common as far as the awareness among Polish citizens is concerned.
The White Ribbon Campaign shows to all that there are men who not only do not use violence but also strongly support aggrieved women. The initiators of the contest recognised that a symbolic protest and act of solidarity is not enough, that just wearing a white ribbon will not influence the improvement of the condition of violence victims.
Then arose a project of making the White Ribbon a distinction awarded to men who actively oppose violence against women. It is important for the initiators that the White Ribbon becomes an award granted for specific actions and not just a symbol given to accidentally encountered passers-by among whom one could find offenders of violence or other criminals. Such a distinction would lead to honouring men who support aggrieved women – it would also encourage others to oppose violence against women.
Planning the White Ribbon Award 2010, we do bear in mind that despite numerous education actions and campaigns the number of men reacting when women are beaten or humiliated and men who join activities fighting violence against women is still too low.
We do hope that the contest of ours will permanently fit in Polish civic culture and actions leading to fight violence against women. Moreover, we trust that it would show us how much is still to be done within the individual, as well as the social scope in order to stop men’s violence against women. Those who are interested in the contest please apply to the following e-mails using the attached form to present the candidate.
Terms and conditions of the contest, as well as specially designed candidate form.
You are more than welcome to propose candidates who deserve to be specially honoured in your entourage.