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Men's Development Network, Block B Buckley Hall,
27-30 Buckingham Street Lower, Dublin 1, D01 YA44

LAUNCH OF WHITE RIBBON
SCHOOLS PROGRAMME

White Ribbon Pilot Programme
focuses on School-Related
Gender-Based Violence

E-Learning Academy will support educators

An innovative new pilot programme aimed at giving secondary teachers and other education professionals the knowledge and skills to engage students around preventing and responding to School-Related Gender-Based Violence (SRGBV) was launched in Dublin on International White Ribbon Day, Friday 25 November.

On what was also International Day for the Eradication of Violence Against Women, Men’s Development Network held an information event in and panel discussion in Carmichael House about its new White Ribbon Secondary Schools Programme. MDN is lead agent for the White Ribbon Ireland (WRI) campaign.

The half-day ‘Zero Tolerance to School-Related Gender-Based Violence’ conference was attended by almost 40 management personnel, teachers, and support staff from nine secondary schools in Clare, Dublin, Louth, and Wicklow who have expressed interest in becoming White Ribbon Educational Hub Partners. Frontline service providers and community development organisations were also represented.

Attendees wore symbolic White Ribbons, handmade by women from the Clonliffe and Croke Park Community Centre. The emblem signifies the campaign’s pledge ‘never to commit, condone, or remain silent about Gender-Based Violence’/Violence Against Women.          

Three schools will be selected for next year’s pilot, which is funded by Department of Justice under Victims of Crime 2022. In June, the Department committed funding for White Ribbon as part of the Prevention Pillar of ‘Zero Tolerance’, the Third National Strategy on Domestic, Sexual and Gender-Based Violence.    

Opening the event, Colm Kelly-Ryan, MDN’s Head of Programmes and Advocacy, noted “the important leadership role of secondary school teachers and management in creating a culture where young men and boys stand for gender equality and in ending Gender-Based Violence”. Antoinette Doran, who is Head of the Criminal Justice, Penal Policy and Victims’ Rights Content and Events Team in the Transparency Function of the Department of Justice, then described the meaning of ‘Zero Tolerance’ in the context of the new National Strategy – at the heart of which is engagement with men and boys to create this cultural shift.

Providing an overview of the project, Colm Kelly-Ryan said a vast amount of research, consultation and preparation has gone into developing a bespoke, best-practice programme that has the potential to mainstream education around gender-based violence into the post-primary curriculum. The pilot entails three cumulative and interconnected programmes, namely the ‘E-learning Academy’, ‘Training of Trainers’(TOT), and a ‘School Partnership Programme’. MDN has been working with Ireland’s first White Ribbon-accredited Third-Level Institution, Munster Technological University (MTU), to create and launch an E-Learning platform for second-level teachers and management in early 2023. This phase will be followed by the Training of Trainers, to be launched by the end of May, and School Partnership Programmes.

MTU’s Darragh Coakley explained to those present that the E-Learning Academy will develop learners’ shared understanding of SRGBV and support them in applying this within their own roles and lives. Together with the TOT component, participants will gain the knowledge and capacity to replicate the training in their own schools.

A panel discussion on Gender-Based Violence in schools and the need for response initiatives was moderated by Róisin Clancy-Davies of MDN’s Client Support Team. Key speakers included Colin Regan, GAA Community and Health Manager; Caitriona Freir, Education and Training Manager from Dublin Rape Crisis Centre; Dr. Ricardo Castellini Da Silva, DCU Media Literacy Educator; and Hugh Fitzmaurice, Mindset Coach and Secondary School Teacher. Discussing SRGBV from different points of view but speaking in a collective voice, they emphasised the importance of education and awareness-raising, as well as training secondary teachers and other professional colleagues in preventing and responding to all forms of School-Related Gender-Based Violence.

Pictured on International White Ribbon Day (Friday, 25 November) at the launch in Carmichael House, Dublin, of a new White Ribbon Pilot Programme focused on School-Related Gender-Based Violence were Antoinette Doran, Head of the Criminal Justice, Penal Policy and Victims’ Rights Content and Events Team in the Transparency Function of the Department of Justice, and Colm Kelly-Ryan, Head of Programmes and Advocacy with Men’s Development Network, which is the lead agent nationally for the White Ribbon campaign.

Photographs: Dermot Byrne

Barbara Carr and Julie Heeney, staff members at St Oliver’s Community College, Drogheda, with Caitriona Freir, Dublin Rape Crisis Centre, and Róisin Clancy Davies, MDN Client Supports.