Men Urged to Take the Lead in Ending Male Violence Against Women

December 7, 2009, 3:53 PM EST

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White Ribbon Campaign Executive Director Todd Minerson finds hope in the everyday struggle to end violence against women. On the eve of the 20th anniversary of the Montreal Massacre, Minerson said that he's optimistic about men, particularly young men, understanding the necessity of changing their own behaviour to take on violence, even challenging those "good guys" who would never resort to violence or abuse to speak up.

"Good guys need to make violence against women their problem," said Minerson, encouraging all men to actively work to end violence against women through speaking to other men and boys about it and working in solidarity with women's groups to promote gender equality. This would make a more compassionate world for men and boys too, he said, during his speech to CAW Council.

The White Ribbon Campaign is an international effort to encourage men to take the initiative to end violence against women. It was started in 1991 by a few men in Toronto, and had 100,000 men across the country wear a white ribbon for December 6th, with the pledge to "never commit, condone or remain silent about violence against women and girls."

In the lead up to Minerson's address Julie White, CAW Director of Women's Programs reflected back on the Montreal Massacre and the sentiments that accompanied what is now known as the worst killing spree in Canadian history.
"On December 6, 1989, our country would change forever," said White. How we saw ourselves as a nation, would change as we began to confront the issue of male violence against women, she said.

"We began to recognize how that horrific single event was linked to women's inequality.  It shocked us into the realization that we needed to organize," said White.

During the emotionally-charged discussion, a number of delegates got up to the microphones. Among them was CAW Local 4003 member Denise Hampden, the founder of the Handkerchief Project. The Handkerchief Project is an initiative which invited cloth submissions from across the country on the issue of violence against women, to commemorate the 20th anniversary of the Montreal Massacre. The handkerchiefs were displayed in the foyer at Council and some of them will be sent for display at the Canadian Museum for Human Rights in Winnipeg. The slogan of the project is "first we mourn, then we work for change."

Closely linked to the discussion was that of the gun registry, which is currently under threat by a private members bill (Bill C-391), which would see it abolished.

CAW/FFAW President Earle McCurdy challenged the MPs who voted in favour of abolishing the registry.

"Have you ever seen such a display of insensitivity as those Members of Parliament who voted in favour of abolishing the gun registry, on the eve of the 20th anniversary of the Montreal Massacre?" asked McCurdy.

Peggy Nash, Assistant to CAW National President, was unequivocal on the position of maintaining the registry. "Every politician needs to be accountable, especially those who say they are our friends," said Nash. "We need to make sure what we have achieved is not undermined."

For more information about the White Ribbon Campaign, please visit:

For more information on the Handkerchief Project, please visit:


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