A national drive to encourage men to join in the white ribbon campaign, the world’s largest effort to end men’s violence against women, was launched Thursday in Beijing.
The initiative, sponsored by the United Nations Development Fund For Women (UNIFEM) and the All-China Women’s Federation, aims to enhance public awareness, especially in men, of violence against women and how to eliminate it.
Initial activities in the drive focus on training and advising men in the campaign.
The white ribbon campaign dates back to 1991 when a handful of men in Canada decided men had a responsibility to speak out against violence against women.
They decided that wearing a white ribbon would be a symbol of men’s opposition to male violence against women.
Wearing a white ribbon is also a personal pledge never to commit, condone nor remain silent about violence against women.
“Men must take more responsibility and play a much bigger role in eliminating gender-based violence,” said Kerstin Leitner, representative of United Nations Development Program in Beijing.
“We hope men will talk more amongst themselves about what they can do to make life safer and more enjoyable for their mothers, sisters, wives and daughters,” she added.
An effective curb on violence against women both at home and in the workplace is a requirement of social progress and the protection of women’s human rights, said Liu Hairong, vice-chairman of the All-China Women’s Federation.
“Gender-based violence is not a phenomenon which occurs in any single country,” she added. “Instead it is a year-round issue that exists in all walks of life, cultures and age groups.”
The United Nations has designated November 25 every year as the International Day for the Eradication of Violence Against Women.
Liu’s federation, as a major pressure group representing women’s interests in China, has contributed to the revision of the current Marriage Law.
The draft amendments to the law, which is still under legislative scrutiny by the National People’s Congress, China’s top legislative body, clearly ban domestic violence, according to federation sources.
“This is a long-term and arduous task for China, which contains 320 million families,” Liu said.
(China Daily 02/23/2001)