As lead agent nationally for the White Ribbon Ireland campaign, Men’s Development Network (MDN) has described the publication of the Third National Strategy on Domestic, Sexual, and Gender-Based Violence as “a very significant moment” with the potential to produce a cultural re-set in Irish society.
The Strategy commits to supporting White Ribbon under Prevention Pillar 1 of the accompanying Implementation Plan. MDN welcomed this endorsement of its work with men and boys to promote non-violence, respect, and gender equality.
CEO Seán Cooke congratulated “all involved in preparing and launching this hugely important document. Minister for Justice Helen McEntee has shown real strength and great leadership in getting this over the line. As an organisation, we are especially delighted to see a critical part of the Prevention Pillar is the emphasis on the engagement of men and boys in ending gender-based violence and the approach used in our White Ribbon campaign.”
Colm Kelly Ryan, MDN’s Head of Programmes and Advocacy, said: “‘Zero Tolerance’ is an ambitious Strategy aimed at making Ireland a safer place for women, girls, and all intersectional identities at heightened risk of experiencing domestic, sexual, and gender-based violence.”
He noted the Strategy is based on the four pillars of the Council of Europe #istanbulconvention and that it includes Government ratification of ILO Convention 190 (concerning the elimination of violence and harassment in the workplace) – an issue MDN, ActionAid Ireland, and ICTU have collectively campaigned on over the past year.
The Network also acknowledged the role played by Minister of State Roderic O’Gorman and not least Taoiseach Micheál Martin and his Department in leading a whole-of-Government approach to delivering the most comprehensive National Strategy on DSGBV to date.
Commending all those NGOs and partners who were integral to the consultation process, Colm Kelly Ryan highlighted “the many feminist and women’s rights organisations — including the National Women’s Council, Women’s Aid, Ruhama, and Safe Ireland, among many others — whose remarkable leadership, supports, services, and advocacy advance a better, safer, more equal nation.”
MDN and White Ribbon Ireland thanked the Department for its willingness to engage and act on its submissions during the consultation phase, culminating in the new €363 million Strategy and 144 targeted actions over an initial 18-month implementation period.
Pillar Prevention 1 focuses on “Working towards the eradication of the social and cultural norms that underpin and contribute to gender-based violence” – which mirrors MDN’s strengths-based, transformative approach to creating healthy masculinities and attitudes.
Said Seán Cooke: “Specifically supporting White Ribbon in the Strategy is a vote of confidence in our work in engaging men and boys as allies for equality and ending gender-based violence. We look forward to playing a prominent and proactive part in helping to make ‘Zero Tolerance’ a reality.”
Men's Development Network CEO Sean Cooke (centre) and head of Programmes and Advocact Colm Kelly Ryan (left)