UPDATE: See coverage on White Ribbon Day in the Boston Globe here.
“From this day forward, I promise to be part of the solution in ending violence against women.” Massachusetts White Ribbon Day Pledge
The energy was lively this morning at the Massachusetts State House where local men, women and youth arrived to celebrate and pledge their support for ending violence against women in the fourth annualMA White Ribbon Day.
MA White Ribbon Day, a statewide campaign sponsored by Jane Doe Inc., is connected with the international White Ribbon Campaign. The mission of these campaigns is to encourage men everywhere to show their support by encouraging others in their organizations, families and workplaces to wear a white ribbon, place a poster up at their workplaces, spread the word about the campaigns and its aims, organize local events to speak out against violence towards women, and challenge attitudes and behaviors which condone or tolerate violence. Since launching the campaign in Massachusetts in 2008, Jane Doe Inc. has recruited over 400 White Ribbon Day Ambassadors and tens of thousands of men and boys have signed the pledge.
Today’s event was guided by a group of inspirational powerhouse speakers including: JDI Executive Director Mary R. Lauby, Lt. Governor Timothy P. Murray, Governor Deval Patrick, Congressman Bill Delahunt, MAPS Paulo Pinto, Michael Weekes, Student Support Specialist Andy Polanco, Start Strong Peer Leader Anderson Teneus, Dr. Phil, and Craig Norberg-Bohm. Each individual brought their own message but all stressed the theme of the importance of men’s responsibility as role models and voices for change and women’s responsibility to tell men and boys in their lives about the campaign and ask them to become an ambassador.
Today Craig Norberg-Bohm, Coordinator of the Men’s Initiative for JDI, stated, “This campaign is not only about preventing individual acts of violence but also fostering a broader framework that promotes healthy relationships and promotes positive masculinity”.
It is important to note that the WRC campaign is not about individual acts of violence but rather a broader framework that confronts unhealthy behaviors and promotes positive masculinity. It’s about creating and fostering a deep mutual accountability among men to one another and to women, to uphold their commitments as fathers, partners, friends, colleagues, brothers and sons of women and girls, to broaden definitions of masculinity that includes men and boys who support, nurture and foster authentic and respectful relationships.
It’s also important to reminder the global impact of violence against women. As former Representative Delahunt so eloquently put it, this is a problem not just here in Massachusetts, but in the far reaches of the globe – in Afghanistan, in China, in Brazil. We must continue to protect all women – the launch of the newly formed UN Women is a great step in particular, and we hope that men are actively involved in that organization and its mission. The same goes for passing I-VAWA – the International Violence Against Women Act.
The morning’s celebration closed with dozens of voices bridging gaps of age, gender, race and class to pledge their support and dedication to ending violence. It was a moving and unifying conclusion to an empowering event. Following the close of the program attendees bundled up to witness the revealing of the White Ribbon Day banner that will hang in the front of the State House for the next week to remind us all of the importance of this movement.
Remember White Ribbon Day extends far beyond the ceremony today. Now is the time for you to take action and do your part! Join us and take the pledge today and add your name to the growing number of men and women in Massachusetts who have joined the campaign!