Welcome to the brand-new White Ribbon Ireland Campaign page for 2022. 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 White Ribbon Ireland Campaign sent a letter to every single TD and Senator in the country: asking them to wear the White Ribbon on International White Ribbon Day, to take the White Ribbon Pledge, and post it on their social media. The Taoiseach, Tanaiste and Minister for Justice were among those who answered the call.
Critically, the letter also called on them to urge Government to ratify ILO Convention No. 190 on Violence and harassment in the workplace. It was co-signed by MDN/White Ribbon Ireland, ActionAid Ireland, the Munster Technological University and the Irish Congress of Trade Unions.
Colm Kelly Ryan's video message for TDs and Senators ahead of International White Ribbon Day 2021. Each member of the Oireachtas received a letter and white ribbon
Tánaiste Leo Varadkar wearing his White Ribbon during Leaders' Questions in the Dáil
Minister for Justice Helen McEntee making the Pledge in support of White Ribbon Ireland
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.
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.
On November 24th 2021, the eve of White Ribbon Day 2021, Men’s Development Network and the White Ribbon Campaign Ribbon held a hugely successful online Panel Discussion, in partnership with Munster Technological University. Long-time White Ribbon ambassador, RTE’s Miriam O’Callaghan, was an excellent and enthusiastic moderator.
This marked a huge development as MTU will be the first White Ribbon University on the island of Ireland and starting a 3-year project with us on ending Gender-Based Violence and Violence against Women and embedding principles of equality, diversity and inclusion across their structures. More information here.
The head of the White Ribbon Ireland campaign has called for a broader rethinking of masculinities and behaviours and what it means to be a male role model in Ireland in 2021.
On International White Ribbon Day (Nov 25), Seán Cooke, CEO of Men’s Development Network, says “a significant cultural shift is needed” to support men in ending gender-based violence. He was commenting after Wednesday’s online panel discussion held in conjunction with Munster Technological University and hosted by RTÉ’s Miriam O’Callaghan.
The event marked the first step towards MTU becoming the first White Ribbon University on the island of Ireland. This is seen as a major advance in making gender-based violence part of the broader education curriculum and informing the wider social and cultural change required to make Ireland a safer place for women, girls, and diverse gender identities.
To achieve this landmark status, a three-year programme of work has been laid out by the University and MDN’s Head of Advocacy, International Human Rights Lawyer, Colm Kelly Ryan. This will involve initiatives by staff, students and stakeholders that demonstrate a commitment to gender equality, consent, and creating universally safe workplaces.
MDN has acted as the lead organisation nationally on the global male-led White Ribbon movement since 2010. Colm says it remains a vital vehicle for change in Ireland.
“Women are the primary victims of Gender-Based Violence and throughout the Covid-19 pandemic and associated lockdowns, there has been a spike in reports of Domestic, Sexual and Gender-Based Violence. According to Women’s Aid, which received 24,893 disclosures of abuse against women, one in four women in Ireland who have been in a relationship have been abused by a current or former partner.”
A recent report from Safe Ireland showed 3,450 women and 589 children who had never contacted a domestic violence service sought support and refuge from abuse and coercive control during the first six months of the pandemic.
Colm adds that, in light of the #MeToo and #TimesUp campaigns, “there is a need to address the issue of violence and harassment across society and in particular in workplace settings.” This led MDN to forge an alliance with ActionAid Ireland and ICTU to campaign for Government ratification into law of ILO Convention No. 190, the international instrument designed to guard against workplace violence and harassment.
Just this week, White Ribbon sent letters, co-signed by the above partners, including MTU, to every member of the Oireachtas urging them to lobby the Government to adopt C190, and to wear enclosed White Ribbons today in a show of solidarity.
White Ribbon Day coincided with the start of the annual Global 16 Days of Activism Against Gender-Based Violence, ending on International Human Rights Day, December 10.
A special MDN initiative will see sixteen speakers from across sport, politics, civil society and beyond — among them Taoiseach Micheál Martin (see below) and Garda Commissioner Drew Harris — post video messages in support of the White Ribbon Ireland Campaign.
Seán hopes that many men will follow their lead and “take the [White Ribbon] pledge”, if not on White Ribbon Day itself, then in the future, and that positive role models can emerge to encourage men to become active social agents for change, taking up more caring roles in their families and communities.
This remains at the core of MDN’s work. A non-profit organisation celebrating its 25th anniversary next year, the Network engages with men and boys from a strengths-based, transformative approach.
Its varied developmental, health, wellbeing, and behavioural change programmes include intensive intervention with men who are violent in their relationships. While engaging with perpetrators to effect change in their behaviour and attitudes, the overarching objective is to protect women and children from harm.
By advocating for gender equality, healthy masculinities, and developing new ideals of manhood, rather than certain societal stereotypes that still prevail, “essentially we work to create opportunities for men to become their most authentic selves,” Seán explains.
Faced with the pressures caused by social conditioning and “the very benign acceptance of violence, per se, across the board, we recognise the need to positively encourage men and boys — through compassion and understanding of the fears they may have — to have a conversation, rather than pointing the finger or talking about ‘fixing’ men.
“While we want men to step up and confront gender-based violence and abuse, we also want them to step back and reflect on their own privilege, to show empathy and form allyship with women. Collectively as a society, we need to create the conditions that deconstruct those notions that make for harmful masculinities and unlearn often learned behaviours.
However, “There are certain aspects of the patriarchy that don’t work for men as well,” he acknowledges, “and we need to find a way to allow men into that conversation without a sense of shame or judgement and so that they can actively become allies to the women in our lives and help end gender-based violence.”
Pledge: Men’s Development Network CEO Seán Cooke, who, on International White Ribbon Day, gave a presentation about the campaign to the White Ribbon secondary school, St. Oliver’s in Drogehda. Also on the 25th, a small march/gathering was co-organised in Carlow by Colm Kelly Ryan with Carlow-Kilkenny CYPSC and supported by An Garda Síochána (below).
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.
Five reasons why White Ribbon is important in 2022
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.