In 1991 a handful of men in Canada decided they should be responsible for urging other men to speak out against violence towards women. They chose to wear white ribbons as a symbol of support for this cause, and today there are White Ribbon Campaigns taking place all over the world, including Swansea University.
Swansea University and the Students’ Union have actively run White Ribbon Campaigns for many years, and 2017 saw awareness for the movement reaching a new high. Kevin Child, Director of Student Services, has been a White Ribbon Ambassador for the last two years, and led the University campaign in recruiting his male colleagues to become ambassadors themselves. In total 16 men applied for the role including:
- Academic and professional colleagues
- 2 Heads of College (Engineering and Science)
- 6 Directors (Estates and Facilities Management, Academic Services, Academic Partnerships, Finance & Information Services and Systems, the CEO of Swansea University’s Students’ Union and Swansea Employability Academy).
On the 29th November, Kevin and his colleagues from CampusLife joined the South Wales Police University Campus Team and New Pathways to hold an awareness-raising event in Fulton House. The event sought to get men to sign a pledge “To never commit, excuse or remain silent about male violence against women”.
100 men signed the “These Hands are not for hurting” pledge cards, and all received White Ribbons to wear as a sign of their commitment to the cause.
Kevin said: “The day created an important space and time for a number of vital conversations and debates to take place, with men and women from all walks of life in attendance no matter their ethnic background, nationality, sexual orientation or belief.”
Coinciding with the White Ribbon Campaign, Swansea University Students’ Union also ran the 16 Days of Activism for the same cause. The campaign is against Gender-Based Violence, and challenges violence against women and girls. Lead by President Chisomo Phiri and Welfare Officer Shona Johnson, the campaign covered the whole 16 days, with a wide range of events. 100 White Ribbon pledges
One of the many highlights was the Reclaim the Night march from Fulton House, where attendees were joined by NUS Wales’ Women’s Officer Gwyneth Sweatman. Through Brynmill and St Helen’s, the march culminated in Wind Street. With women leading the chanting, men stood by their sides, shouting support to “Never commit, excuse or remain silent about male violence against women”.
Shona Johnson (Welfare Officer), Kevin Child (Director of Student Services) and Chisomo Phiri (President) supporting the Reclaim the Night march.
Chisomo Phiri, Swansea University Students’ Union President, said: “1 in 3 students are sexually assaulted on campus, 2 women die every week from domestic violence, and there are 126 cases of FGM found in Wales every year. Sadly, the critical issues surrounding this campaign are ones that our students will probably face in the future, so this campaign is really important to me. I wanted to educate and equip students on how to deal with them and raise awareness so they know what support resources exist.”
“For me, it's really important to celebrate strong women and make women feel empowered even though they face these difficulties. The colour orange was used throughout the campaign to highlight the bright futures that women can have and I hope by us raising awareness, victims know that there is a bright future waiting for them.”
- Monday 11 December 2017 08.25 GMT
- Wednesday 13 December 2017 10.03 GMT
- Ffion White