Prevent men’s violence against women

16 Days of Activism 2018

The 16 Days of Activism against Gender-Based Violence is an international campaign run by UN Women, from 25 November to 10 December. It is “a time to galvanise action to end violence against women and girls around the world.”

The theme for the 2018 16 Days of Activism is #HearMeToo – emphasising the importance of listening to women, believing them, and bringing their stories to light.

We believe everyone in the community has a voice when it comes to ending men’s violence against women, and that everyone has a role to play. This year, we will be featuring one simple action each day, so that you can have an informed understanding of how you can prevent men’s violence against women in Australia.


Day 1: Believe women

If you hear about a woman’s experience of violence or abuse, it is critical that you believe her. Not believing a woman’s experience of sexual assault enables her abuser. By listening to women, actively listening, we empower them and validate their experiences. This goes a long way to supporting someone who has disclosed abuse to you, and sets them on a good path to seeking professional support.

There’s nothing more powerful than showing a woman or girl who has been victimised that you believe her. There’s nothing more damaging than blaming a victim for their abuse. Our society has shown time and time again that women suffer greatly after speaking out against assault or violence and the clear barriers to reporting abuse or assault (#WhyIDidntReport).

Day 2: Empower young people

Young people have some of the most powerful voices in the world. It’s imperative that we support and empower them to speak out, and drive change around Australia, and globally. During their time at school and university, young people form behaviours, social skills and relationships, as well as ideas about men, women and their roles in society.

Exposure to harmful messaging and gender stereotyping can lead to attitudes that support inequality and disrespect towards women. One in four young people think it’s “pretty normal” for guys to pressure girls into sex, and one in three young people “don’t think controlling someone is a form of violence.”

Young people will be the ones to break the cycle of violence against women, not just in Australia but around the world. Tailored resources for young people are available on the What’s OK at Home? website, including specific sections for different age groups.

Day 3: Be an active bystander

Being an active bystander means to safely intervene in a situation where you see another person who needs help (they may be in danger, be scared or uncomfortable). It’s especially powerful when a man intervenes in a situation to assist a woman who is being harassed by another man. As we know, women, transgender, gender non-conforming individuals and the LGBTQ+ community experience significant levels of street harassment and sexual harassment when trying to go about their day-to-day lives.

Have you ever seen a woman look uncomfortable when a group of guys has said something to her as she walks past? Know what to say to call it out!

Don’t just stand by. Stand up, speak out and act to help women feel safe.

Day 4: Be a role model for your sons

Fathers, grandfathers, uncles, and those in father figure roles, are in a unique position to create positive social change. You can redefine masculinity, embrace gender equality, and help to shape Australia’s future generations of boys by setting a good example, and being a role model for your sons.

Read more about White Ribbon Australia’s Fatherhood Program and access the fatherhood-related podcasts, factsheets, toolkits, blogs and articles we have compiled to help you on your journey of being an impactful and empowering male role model.

MenEngage Alliance work with men and boys for gender equality, and have also pulled together some important resources about supporting guys to create an equal future. 

Day 5: Promote respectful relationships and consent

Consent is an important base for any sort of healthy relationship, and can apply not only to sex, but also to everyday interactions such as financial decisions, group activities, topics of conversation, and food. 

By promoting respect and consent in all aspects of your life (to your kids, partner, family, friends, coworkers), you are setting an example of how you expect to be treated and how you expect others should be treated.

When it comes to consent, only a enthusiastic “yes” means yes. “I guess so”, “maybe” or no answer are not consensual. Pressuring someone to say yes, or someone saying yes under the influence of drugs or alcohol, is also not consensual.

Your partner always has the right to say “No” even if you’re married, living together or in a long-term relationship.

Day 6: Get involved in your community

Getting involved in your community is an active way for you to build healthy relationships and start important conversations about respect and equality. On average, one women a week is killed at the hands of a current or former partner. Strong community bonds are critical to being comfortable speaking out if you see or hear something that worries you. VicHealth research into community attitudes found that 98% of survey respondents indicated they were likely to intervene if they knew a woman experiencing domestic violence.

Simone O’Brien, one of our White Ribbon Advocates, and survivor of partner perpetrated violence, once said, “I owe my life to my neighbours. I would not be here today if it wasn’t for them. They saved my life. I would encourage everyone to get to know their neighbours. You feel safer knowing who lives near you.”

Day 7: Support women in sport

Sport is a critical channel for raising awareness of the importance of respectful relationships throughout codes, clubs, members and fans. Millions of men, women, boys and girls play sport at some point in their lives, and it is important that the prevention of men’s violence against women is incorporated into training, games, events and broadcasting to reach further into the community and highlight a zero tolerance approach.

The Line do a great job of unpacking the difference between how elite male and female players are treated, through coverage, wages, and the questions they get asked. By encouraging women and girls to get involved in sports, and telling them they are just as good as the boys, we can close the gap and create gender equality on the field, and help young girls have strong female sporting role models.

Day 8: Learn about intersectionality

It’s important to acknowledge that women’s experiences of violence, abuse and how they function in society are very different based on a range of factors. Intersectionality refers to the ways that gender, race, sexual orientation, ability, age, education, religion and economic status intersect and overlap to impact people’s’ lives.

These things do not exist separately from each other, but are actually interwoven.

Intersectionality is most commonly used amongst feminist groups (intersectionality feminism) to better include and understand the experiences of women who fit in to a number of the categories mentioned above.

Day 9: Be an ally to women

It’s important to remember that men and women have more in common than we don’t. Showing our support for the women in our lives, the women we don’t know and the women we will never know, is a collective act of compassion.

Understanding our social privilege as men and using it to support women makes for healthier and happier relationships, families, workplaces, communities and societies. Being an ally to women is a powerful show of support to the woman herself and to others.

Read White Ribbon Canada’s handy guide on how to be an ally to women.

Day 10: Help out a friend in need

With violence against women in the spotlight more so than ever, it’s important to know how to help if you have a friend, family member or colleague disclose an experience of violence to you. If someone has taken the difficult step of telling you their experience of violence or abuse, it is important you respond in a supportive and appropriate way. 

Believe the person, and make sure they understand it’s not their fault. Listen without judging the person and be as supportive, encouraging, open and honest as you can. Ask if they need help from a support service and discuss their options. Offer to go with the person if they meet with a support service, and keep in touch with the person to see how they are going.

Ask Izzy is a site that provides easy answers to questions for those experiencing violence, including finding housing, food or clothes, accessing services like legal help, counselling or Centrelink, and supporting you to find work and training.

Day 11: Volunteer

One of the most fulfilling ways to make a difference this December is to look at volunteering. There are many not-for-profit organisations that get busy in the lead up to Christmas, and volunteering can benefit you, the organisation, and the wider community.

Get in touch with your local women’s shelter and offer your help, or sign up to become a White Ribbon Supporter to be kept in the loop about potential volunteering opportunities in your area.

Day 12: Learn about the Indigenous peoples of Australia

In Australia, statistics show that Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women experience high levels of violence and abuse. Family violence among Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people impacts on the health and social outcomes of women and children.  Indigenous women are 32x more likely to be hospitalised due to family violence than non-indigenous women.

White Ribbon’s Diversity Program directly engages with different Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander groups around Australia, with tailored workshops and forums that address nuanced drivers of violence in their communities.

We have curated a list of resources about violence, tailored to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples, including videos of Indigenous Ambassadors, frameworks, animations, and fact facts.

Day 13: Call out sexual harassment at work

Workplace sexual harassment may not be violent at first. It may be a sexist joke or comment.

It’s any unwelcome behaviour, which makes a person feel offended, uncomfortable, humiliated or intimidated. It can be physical, verbal or written.

Try phrases like:

  • “You’re better than that”
  • “That’s pretty offensive if you think about it”
  • “How do you think saying that makes her feel?”
  • “What do you mean by that?”
  • “Does anyone else think that’s out of line?”

Our actions in these situations matter, particularly if you are a man. The standard we walk past is the standard we accept.

Day 14: Model respect in your family

An easy way to prevent men’s violence against women is to model respect in your own family. Set a good example for your children about equal partnerships, and treating each other with respect. Set a standard of gender equality in your home, and break down gendered stereotypes around the “roles” of men and women in the house.

How do you speak to or about the other people in your family? Your language and actions matter!

Read a blog from one of our Ambassadors, Adam Fraser, about respect in the home and positively parenting daughters.

Day 15: Learn about men's violence against women

To prevent men’s violence against women, it’s important to understand where it stems from, as well as the impact that it has on women, and the wider community. Explore our website, watch the news, read articles on the topic and actively unpack it in discussions with your peers. An easy way to learn about this is to undertake our free eLearning course.

Day 16: Don't stop your activism

White Ribbon Day and the 16 Days of Activism are over for 2018 – but this does not mean that violence decreases, or that people cease disrespectful attitudes and inappropriate behaviour. Every day of the year should be treated as if it is White Ribbon Day. Every day, you have an opportunity (and a responsibility) to continue standing up, speaking out and acting to end men’s violence against women.

Keep up to date with White Ribbon’s programs and advocacy by becoming a Supporter or by signing up to our Newsletter.

Subscribe to our newsletter