White Ribbon Campaign aims to spread message, end violence against women

The first official meeting of the steering committee of The Center for Family Justice’s White Ribbon Campaign (WRC) took place last week, with a core group of a dozen men working together to end violence against women.

To succeed and spread the word to men and boys in the communities The Center services — Bridgeport, Easton, Fairfield, Monroe, Stratford and Trumbull — the committee decided to focus on a few strategies:

• To attract more men to the committee, to not only spread the word that violence must stop but to organize annual community events such as Walk A Mile In Her Shoes that takes place each spring in Fairfield.

• To speak in schools, faith-based organizations and men’s clubs about the WRC.

• To train men about the importance of bystander intervention, so when they see a man acting inappropriately toward a women they know the words to use to intervene.

• To support the enforcement of domestic violence.

The group is chaired by Fairfield Police Chief Gary MacNamara and includes: Raymond Baldwin, President/CEO St. Vincent’s Special Needs; John Brannelly, Chief Development and Communications Officer of The Center; Bridgeport Mayor Bill Finch; Bridgeport Police Chief Joseph Gaudette; Robert Hojnacki of Patriot National Bank; Dale Holder, Council of Churches, Director of Youth Programs; Trumbull Police Chief Michael Lombardo; Todd Pelazza, Director of Public Safety at Fairfield University; Bruce Silverstone, Vice President of Corporate Communications at Aquarion Water Company; Robert Vass, University of Bridgeport; and from The Center, Mark Antonini, Chief Financial Officer; John Brannelly, Chief Development and Communications Officer; and Marlon Ramnanan, Community Educator.

Each man who joins WRC signs a pledge that he will not condone violence against women. And they are asked to think about, and try to incorporate, seven behaviors identified by the International White Ribbon Campaign Committee to help end gender-based violence and promote gender equity, healthy relationships and positive ideals of masculinity:

• Think about the kind of man you want to be. Be true to yourself.

• Never use force, threats, or violence in your relationships with others.

• Wear a white ribbon and speak out against violence against women.

• Be a good role model and share with those around you the importance of respecting women and girls.

• Learn about the impact of violence against women in our communities.

• Challenge and speak out against hurtful language, sexist jokes and bullying.

• Accept your role as a guy in helping end violence against women. It affects everyone.

The WRC began as an outcry to the Dec. 6, 1989 killing of 14 women students at the Ecole Polytechnique in Montreal, Canada, by gunman Marc Lepine who claimed he was “fighting feminism.” Because of the massacre, a handful of men in Canada formed the WRC because they felt they had a responsibility to urge men to speak out about violence against women. Today, there are WRCs in more than 55 countries.

If you would like more information about The Center’s WRC chapter, please contact Debra Greenwood, President/CEO of The Center at 203-334-6154, or dgreenwood@CenterForFamilyJustice.org with the words White Ribbon Campaign in the subject line.