White Ribbon Campaign at IFAD

To mark the International Day to Eliminate Violence against Women on 25 November, IFAD’s Thematic Group on Gender, colleagues from the Communication Division and the United Nations Women’s Group (UNWG) joined hands to distribute white ribbons among male and female colleagues.

The White Ribbon Campaign is a global effort of men who are not afraid to speak out against men’s use of violence. Women have joined the White Ribbon Campaign to work with men as allies towards a world without violence for women, children and other men.

Jessie Mabutas, Assistant President and IFAD Focal Point for the UN Secretary-General’s Campaign “UNITE to end violence against women”, kicked off the event by handing out white
ribbons to male colleagues, from senior managers to interns.
About 275 colleagues, mostly men, signed the signature poster of the White Ribbon Campaign and took the white ribbon as a symbol. They pledged not to commit, condone or remain silent about violence against women and to influence other men and boys not to accept violence or justify violence.

This event showed how many IFAD colleagues are interested in stopping violence against women. It proved sceptics wrong who think gender based violence is not on the agenda of IFAD. It also helped us to question our attitudes and how each one of us is influenced by stereotypes. We demonize men as perpetrators of violence or argue whether women can also be violent. Instead, it would be much more helpful to support men who have the courage to speak out against sexual harassment and violence against women, and to encourage women to reach out to men and start a dialogue.

The white ribbon helps to create positive change by influencing men not to use violence and by nourishing greater respect among women and men. It is a symbol for change in gender relations.



Fahmida said…
It is indeed great to learn that IFAD has brought men and boys into the gender discourse. Gender discourse tends to view men negatively often portraying men as perpetrators of violence or resistors of gender equality. There is less tendencies to highlight those men who do not resort to violence, respect gender equality, enjoy fatherhood and share work in the house. But this aspect of men’s lives has remained poorly documented. This news about the high turnout of male colleagues in IFAD at the White Ribbon Campaign is a good example that shows men’s desire to speak out against violence against women and their commitment to promote gender equality.

In order to make women’s empowerment programs more effective and sustainable IFAD has recognised the need to partner with men to speak out against gender discrimination, to challenge unequal power relations between men and women and to provide opportunities for men to be nurturing caregivers. Women and men can be active partners in promoting women’s empowerment in the home, the community, the labour market and the workplace.

One example of engaging women and men as partners in rural development program of IFAD is the ‘Household Mentoring Approach’ in Zambia. Household mentoring describes the process whereby adult members of the households meet together with a trained household mentor, selected from the local community, on a regular basis over a period of one or two years. During these visits, household members are assisted in identifying their sources of vulnerability, needs and priorities. Then all the members of the household (both men and women) prepare household objectives, action plan and mobilise resources for implementing the plan. Their aim was to improve their food security and generate an income. Furthermore, the mentoring process provided the context for addressing gender inequalities within the household, as well as health related issues. This approach takes account of perspectives of both women and men in the households. This methodology, developed by the Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency (SIDA) and supported by IFAD’s grant, has proven to generate profound impacts at the household level, not only in terms of food security and increased incomes, but also in terms of gender empowerment and HIV/AIDS mainstreaming.