49-50 O'Connell Street, Waterford, Ireland
Welcome to the White Ribbon Ireland Campaign page for 2023. White Ribbon is a campaign in over 60 countries worldwide which seeks to engage with men and boys on ending Violence against Women and Gender-Based Violence.
The White Ribbon Campaign in Ireland is led by Men’s Development Network and this is your portal for all information about White Ribbon Ireland, how to get involved in the campaign, and all our latest information and activities.
The annual International White Ribbon Day (Nov 25) also coincides with the first day of the United Nations 16 Days of Activism against Gender-Based Violence. In 2021, the White Ribbon Ireland and MDN social media pages featured a very special campaign.
In 2021, sixteen speakers from across sport, music, politics and civil society came together to support our White Ribbon Ireland Campaign. They included the likes of Taoiseach Micheál Martin (day one, see above), Garda Commissioner Drew Harris, and fourteen other notable contributors.
Minister for Justice Helen McEntee making the Pledge in support of White Ribbon Ireland
White Ribbon Ireland and Men’s Development Network (as lead agent for the campaign nationally) were delighted to be part of ceremonies in Bishopstown and Tralee on April 27th 2022 as signal flag-raisings were held at all six Munster Technological University campuses in Cork and Kerry.
Speaking at the ceremony, MDN’s Head of Programmes and Advocacy Colm Kelly Ryan, commended MTU’s collective vision and unwavering commitment to White Ribbon “as we step forward together in promoting gender equality and ending gender-based violence.”
He thanked MTU President, Professor Maggie Cusack, Professor Margaret Linehan, Siobhán Kangataran, Ellen O’Shea, and all the team at the University’s Equality, Diversity and Inclusion office for leading the way towards becoming Ireland’s first White Ribbon University.
Colm referenced our focus on advancing gender equality and ending gender-based violence “in an innovative way – through transforming masculinities and engaging men and boys as allies”, as well as building allyship with women and girls.
Joyce O’Sullivan, who is a member of our Client Support team based in the Southwest, represented White Ribbon Ireland at a similar ceremony at the MTU Campus in Tralee, Co Kerry.
Thank you for this warm welcome and invitation. Good afternoon MTU, Ireland’s first White Ribbon University – doesn’t that have a ring to it?!
I am honoured to be here with you today at the beginning of our White Ribbon journey together. My name is Colm Kelly Ryan and I am Head of Programmes & Advocacy with Men’s Development Network and White Ribbon Ireland.
Today, we take a step together in promoting gender equality and in ending gender-based violence, but we do it in an innovative way – through transforming masculinities and engaging men and boys as allies. On behalf of the Board of Men’s Development Network, our CEO Seán Cooke and from everyone at the Network… thank you for taking this step.
Our work at MDN and White Ribbon is about transforming masculinities – changing the norms, behaviours and attitudes in relation to men and masculinities: creating spaces for personal development and to become one’s most authentic self. Our work is underpinned by intersectional feminism and this stems across our National Health and Development Programme and our Client Support Services. We are the only organisation in Ireland to work with both male perpetrators and victims/survivors of domestic violence and abuse through our MEND and Male Advice Line programmes.
The concept of engaging men and boys as allies for gender equality, gender justice, anti-racism, anti-discrimination, women’s rights, LGBTQI+ rights and ending gender-based violence is not new, but it is for the first time becoming mainstream in Irish society. Through this work, we will become a more equal, diverse and inclusive Ireland for all.
This is a significant day for Ireland as a nation. Engaging men and boys in education, awareness-raising and capacity-building is a significant aspect of the Prevention Pillar under the Istanbul Convention. Our message today is simple… prevention is better than intervention. If we can prevent gender-based violence from happening by changing the norms, challenging patriarchal structures, calling out attitudes which condone discrimination, we will be a better society for all. That’s our collective challenge and responsibility.
With that said, I am pleased to announce publicly for the very first time that Government and Department of Justice have just awarded White Ribbon 70,000 euros for our gender justice and equality work and I wish to thank them for it.
I have a few more ‘thank yous’ to give before I close – President Cussack, Professor Margaret Linehan, Siobhán Kangataran, Ellen O’Shea and all the team at the EDI Office, you are leaders and I cannot thank you enough for your vision and unwavering commitment to White Ribbon and engaging men and boys in ending Gender-Based Violence. I ask you all to please give them a round of applause.
White Ribbon was founded in 1991 in Canada by a group of men who recognised the importance of engaging men and boys from a strengths-based approach, in ending Gender-Based Violence. Their initiative came 2 years after the Montréal University/École Polytehnique Massacre, where 14 women were murdered by a gunman at the Faculty of Engineering what was an anti-feminist attack.
It is with their memory in mind, and every victim/survivor in this country and beyond in our minds and hearts, that we raise this White Ribbon Flag across MTU Campuses in Cork/Kerry today. As we raise our flags today, let us raise our hearts and voices for there is hope that through our White Ribbon work, we will promote substantive equality and we will end Gender-Based Violence — together.
Thank you very much.
A significant 2022 tie-in between Sligo GAA and White Ribbon Ireland advanced our efforts to engage men in initiatives and conversations around ending gender-based violence.
As part of the partnership, the white ribbon appeared on the sleeves of the Yeats County’s Under-20 training kit this season. Sligo went on to score a first ever Connacht U20 championship title success by beating Mayo in a dramatic decider.
Colm Kelly Ryan, Head of Programmes and Advocacy with The Men’s Development Network – which is the lead organisation for White Ribbon nationally – says: “The White Ribbon Campaign is about men being aware, taking a lead, being an ally, and encouraging and facilitating change.
“Sport is very visible in society, and we were very pleased to support this group of young sportsmen who are prepared to look beyond just their immediate sporting interest and take such a public stance on a topic of such significance.”
Full details of the link-up can be read here
Welcoming the support of both influential national figures, regional institutions, and civic-minded local groups, the head of White Ribbon Campaign Ireland has urged men to foster greater allyship with women to further the aims of gender equality and an end to gender-based violence.
Seán Cooke, CEO of Men’s Development Network, was speaking after attending a December 1st photocall (above) at which South West Wexford Family Resource Centre, local hobbyist collective Blokes With Cameras and Ramsgrange Men’s Shed came together to signal their support for the White Ribbon Ireland campaign during the annual United Nations Global #16days of Activism Against Gender-Based Violence (Nov 25 – Dec 10).
MDN has been the lead organisation nationally on the 30-year-old global male-led White Ribbon movement since 2010.
Seán Cooke, CEO of Men’s Development Network, and Mark Khan, former White Ribbon engagement officer, pictured with then-Ireland manager Mick McCarthy in November 2019 ahead of World Ribbon Day. Irish players wore the WRI campaign emblem during the National Anthem ahead of the Euro qualifier against Denmark at the Aviva Stadium.
The Men’s Development Network and its White Ribbon Campaign addressed Gender Equality in Society, Health, Law, Advocacy and in men’s conversation, at a seminar hosted by the HSE at Dr. Steeven’s Hospital in November 2018. Then Health Minister Simon Harris was among the speakers.
The late Noel Whelan, Senior Counsel, who was a hugely respected board member of Men’s Development Network at the time, outlined positive changes in the Law in relation to Gender Equality in Ireland, including on Violence Against Women and Men, particularly the SOA and new DV Law.
Current Board member Mia de Faoite, International expert, survivor and activist, also made a significant contribution based on her experiences and studies, while MDN founder and former CEO Alan O’Neill spoke on Gender Equality, a key ingredient in the New Conversation with Men.