Rural Action Derbyshire is once again supporting the annual "White Ribbon Day and the 16 Days of Activism Against Gender-Based Violence" campaign, two powerful global campaigns that share a common goal: to eradicate gender-based violence and create a world where everyone lives free from fear, abuse, and discrimination.

These initiatives, occurring annually from November 25th to December 10th, are integral in raising awareness, fostering change, and advocating for the rights and safety of women and girls.

What is the 16 Days of Activism? 

The 16 Days of Activism Against Gender-Based Violence runs from November 25th to December 10th, this is a global initiative that seeks to unite people in the fight against gender-based violence. It is used as an organizing strategy by individuals and organizations around the world to call for the prevention and elimination of violence against women and girls (VAWG).  

The movement was originated by activists at the inaugural Women's Global Leadership Institute in 1991, triggered by the Montréal massacre in Canada, where on December 6th, 1989, Merc Lepine shot a group of female engineering students before turning the gun on himself. 


Although some considered it an isolated incident without any social significance, many more suggested that the tragedy was indicative of deep-rooted and widespread anti-feminist sentiment. The debates following the tragedy resulted in stricter gun laws in Canada and sparked fierce debates about violence against women.  

Since its formation in 1991, more than 6,000 organizations from approximately 187 countries have participated in the 16 Days campaign.  

In 1991, the Parliament of Canada declared 6 December to be a National Day of Remembrance and Action on Violence Against Women. 


An estimated 736 million women — almost one in three — have been subjected to physical and/or sexual intimate partner violence, non-partner sexual violence, or both, at least once in their lives.  



What is White Ribbon Day?  

White Ribbon Day is a global movement of men and boys working to end male violence against women and girls.  

Observed on November 25th, it marks the International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women. Since 1981, Women’s Rights Activists have been using the date to observe action against gender-based violence.

In addition to this, the day was selected to honour the Mirabal sisters, who were three political activists who were brutally murdered by the de facto ruler of the Dominican Republic, Rafael Trujillo in 1960. We'll be talking more about the Mirabal Sisters in another article.

White Ribbon Day was formed by a group of pro-feminist men in London, Ontario in November 1991 as a response to the tragic École Polytechnique massacre and seeks to promote healthy relationships, gender equity, and a compassionate vision of masculinity.  

The ribbon itself is designed to symbolize the idea of men giving up their arms, and the movement is active in over 60 countries. Organizers and Ambassadors are called to work together to prevent violence and make sure communities and homes are made safe for everyone.  

A global study on women working in the technology sector found that 44 percent of women founders had experienced some form of harassment at work in 2020, of which 41 percent of women experienced sexual harassment.  

Why is RAD supporting the campaign?  

Equality in all forms is at the very core of Rural Action Derbyshire's ethos, and this is particularly demonstrated through The Willow Project, our rural abuse awareness program.  

Emily Brailsford, project officer of our rural domestic abuse project says, “These two global campaigns are really important to highlight the issues around gender-based violence, and what makes this a bit different is that we are asking men to speak up about it too.   

“We are becoming a White Ribbon Supporter, which means our staff and trustee team, including the men, are signing a pledge “never to accept men's violence against women” and one of the trustees is our White Ribbon Ambassador.”  

The two campaigns specifically refer to violence against women, but at Rural Action Derbyshire we understand that men can be victims too. In the UK, 1 in 4 women and 1 in 6-7 men will experience domestic abuse during their lifetime. This can be a result of the same toxic masculinity that creates an environment within which gender-based violence can incubate; a societal expectation that ‘men don’t cry’ can mean that men do not speak out, suffer in silence, result in mental health issues and even suicide.  

The population of South Derbyshire is about 105,000 which would equate to 35,000 women and over 16,000 men. It is quite likely that one of you may be a victim or will know a victim of domestic abuse, even if you aren’t aware of it.  

It is vital that gender-based violence and domestic abuse, whether it’s around the world, or right here in Derbyshire, is eradicated by everyone speaking up and supporting campaigns like WRC and 16 Days. 

What can I do?  

The white ribbon is an awareness ribbon sometimes used by political movements to signify or spread their belief in a fairer, safer society.  

Men and boys are encouraged to wear white ribbons as a symbol of their opposition to violence against women.  

Support the campaign through social media and networking channels. There are tools, assets, and editing tools online.  

Spread awareness of White Ribbon Day throughout your community, through printed media, performance, and art.  


For more information on our work around rural domestic abuse visit our website or social media channels. You can follow our podcast “The Willow Pod” via AudioBoom and Spotify.  


#WhiteRibbonDay #MakeThePromise #NoExcuseForAbuse