Published on

30 November 2023

Flag raised to mark White Ribbon Day

The White Ribbon flag has been raised to mark White Ribbon Day and the beginning of 16 days of activism.

Councillors and officers stand outside the council building holding up the white ribbon flag, an orange flag with a white ribbon, next to a pull up banner with information about white ribbon

The White Ribbon flag has been raised above Wokingham Borough Council offices in Shute End, Wokingham, to mark White Ribbon Day and the beginning of 16 days of activism to end violence against women and girls (VAWG).

The council was delighted to be awarded White Ribbon Accreditation earlier in the month by White Ribbon UK, the leading charity engaging men and boys to prevent violence against women. This launches an organisational commitment to end violence against women and girls.

The white ribbon is a symbol for ending men’s violence against women and girls and White Ribbon Day is an internationally recognised day where men show their commitment and support to ending violence against women and girls.

Making the white ribbon promise

The council’s three male directors, Matt Pope Executive Director for Children, Adults and Health, Graham Ebers Director of Resources and Assets and Deputy Chief Executive, and Giorgio Framalicco Director of Place and Growth, have all made the white ribbon promise to never use, excuse or remain silent about men’s violence against women.

The three directors will all be spearheading the creation of a three-year action plan to effect change under the four key areas of strategic leadership, engaging men and boys, culture change and raising awareness.

According to White Ribbon, the first step in making women and girls safer at work, school and in their communities, is for everyone to challenge derogatory comments, objectification, sexist ‘humour’, over familiar remarks and practices which exclude women and favour men.

During the 16 days of activism, a vigil will be held in Wokingham marketplace on 1 December at 7pm and people are invited to join the borough and town mayors to light up the town square with electric candles or torches in memory and support of those affected by VAWG.

Borough libraries have lots of resources available for those interested in knowing more about different perspectives on VAWG, with a list of suggested resources available in the libraries and on the website.

Three adults stand by a stand containing white ribbon related books in the library against a backdrop of a white ribbon day display

Do not be silent

Councillor Sarah Kerr, executive member for climate emergency and resident services, said: “Violence against women and girls is a fundamental human rights violation which harms the lives of millions. We all have our own stories, but the common theme running through all of them is that men are the perpetrators and women are de-humanised, treated as objects.  And this stops women and girls living the lives they would choose for themselves.

“It is not all men. In fact it is not most men. But all men have a moral duty to be part of the solution. No more should we be requiring women to change their behaviours in order to avoid abuse and violence.  We need men to actively call out misogynistic behaviours and toxic masculinity that are prevalent in society. 

“The 25th November is White Ribbon Day. White Ribbon is specifically about raising awareness of the role men play in eliminating violence against women and girls, and is part of the wider VAWG agenda.

“I am delighted that following our application to White Ribbon UK, Wokingham Borough Council is now accredited, meaning we have demonstrated that we have the strategic buy-in and the governance framework in place to enable us to continuously work towards culture change.

“We have set up a steering group to lead on this vital work which includes ambassadors and champions from across the organisation, including three members of our corporate leadership team; Matt Pope, Giorgio Framalicco and Graham Ebers, who will take it in turns to be the organisation’s White Ribbon strategic leads rotating on an annual basis.

“Having this kind of corporate level buy-in and leadership demonstrates the priority given to this important agenda. I urge everyone get involved in some way. Silence only serves those that oppress. Do not be silent.”

Councillors raising the white ribbon flag above Shute End

More about VAWG

Violence against women and girls takes place in communities across the UK and can be committed by anyone, from close friends and family to strangers, and anywhere, including homes, workplaces and in public places.

Although men and boys are also victims of violence and abuse, women and girls are often disproportionately affected because of their gender, particularly in cases such as sexual harassment and bullying, stalking, revenge porn, up skirting and domestic abuse.

The VAWG strategy will cover a range of actions including changing societal attitudes and behaviours of misogyny and sexism, holding perpetrators to account, ensuring victims get the support they need and raising awareness and empowerment in local communities.

The flag blowing in the wind above the council offices

Get updates to your inbox twice a week

Give website feedback