By Rouzbeh Mircharkhchian
As part of my Sauvé Scholars Program Individual Project, I decided to contact “White Ribbon Campaign”, a Canadian based international effort of men to stop violence against women. I met some active members of this large campaign in the Governor General’s “Together for Women’s Security” conference in Ottawa.
Since I have a longstanding interest in the role of men in promoting gender equality in the society and have written several articles about this issue back in my country, this meeting inspired me to integrate a more practical element into my project.
November 25th, the United Nations International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women, provided me with a platform to arrange a White Ribbon Campaign event at McGill University. In less than one month, I brought several McGill groups and societies which are active on women’s rights together and, with the help of the Jeanne Sauvé Foundation and my fellow Sauvé Scholars, we held a three day event on the University’s campus.
In three buildings on campus, we set up tables, covered by special pamphlets and white ribbons. In the first two days of our event (November 24th and 25th), we talked to lots of McGill students, especially boys, and raised their awareness about this serious and overwhelming international problem. McGill Social Equity and Diversity Education (SEDE), VDay McGill, Sexual Assault Center of McGill Students’ Society (SACOMS), McGill Women without Borders, and the Senate Sub-Committee on Women were the clubs and organizations that helped me throughout these days.
On November 26th, thanks to the help of the Post-Graduate Students’ Society of McGill University (PGSS), I screened “Polytechnique”, an impressive film about what is known as the Montreal Massacre. Over sixty people showed up in the ballroom of Thomson House and found out more about this very horrible massacre, which occurred on December 6, 1989 at the École Polytechnique in Montreal and led to the death of fourteen women and injury of thirteen more.
The extreme, absolute and very bitter systematic violence against women in this real story showed us the importance of working more and more to solve this serious problem in the world. While the White Ribbon Campaign recognizes any effort to eliminate violence against women as a very valuable act, we think prevention is the best solution for this threat, and we believe that since men are a major part of the problem, they can and they must be a part of the solution as well.
As the only exclusive event about the International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women held this year at the University, this three day campaign was a collective effort to deliver the message of unity and responsibility to the students and professors on the campus. I am happy to say that at the end of the event, lots of people recognized that remaining silent against any kind of violence against women (physical, sexual, emotional, psychological or spiritual) is equal to committing it, and that to eliminate such terrible wounds from the face of our societies, we should all speak up!
Please download the brochure that we prepared for the event here.