Men urged to speak out against GBV as Awam launches White Ribbon Campaign

03 Oct 2023 03:50pm
Awam president Ho Yock Lin during a speech for the White Ribbon Campaign and Run launch.
Awam president Ho Yock Lin during a speech for the White Ribbon Campaign and Run launch.

KUALA LUMPUR - The All Women's Action Society (Awam) has launched the White Ribbon Campaign and Run for its fifth year, with the slogan "Break the Silence, End the Violence".

The campaign aimed at combatting gender-based violence (GBV) in Malaysia by promoting a new vision of healthy masculinity and encouraging men to speak out against GBV, particularly domestic abuse.

According to Awam, 70 per cent of survivors of GBV were women, which highlights the need for men to take a stand against all forms of violence and discrimination.

The campaign will also raise awareness of the disproportionate violence against women and girls in Malaysia, and call for action to address and prevent it.

Several notable guests attended the launch event, including Selangor Public Health and Environment exco Jamaliah Jamaluddin, Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) Assistant Representative Tengku Aira Tengku Razif United, High Commission of Canada in Malaysia Advocacy Officer Dayalan S. Rajoo, police representatives, and the casts of Astro Shaw's Riot! Nelissa Nizam and Sarimah Ibrahim.

The White Ribbon Campaign originated in Canada in 1991 and represents a significant movement of men and boys working to end violence against women and girls, promote gender equity, healthy relationships, and a new version of masculinity.

Awam plans to collaborate with schools, colleges, workplaces, and communities throughout the campaign duration to deliver educational programmes, workshops, and advocacy initiatives.

Awam President Ho Yock Lin said that it is important for men to speak out against GBV, as they make up more than half of the population.

"If even 10 per cent of men spoke up against violence towards women, it would result in a resounding chorus amplifying the message and driving change into the community," she said.

Ho also stressed the importance of promoting anti-sexual harassment awareness and instilling mechanisms to combat sexual harassment in workplaces.

She also said that the public needs to be educated about gender equality, which is not about biological differences but about substantive equality.

"We are talking about equality of opportunity, equal share of work, or fair pay.

"We must create such education for the youth to ensure that these values are instilled into them."

Ho concluded by saying that the White Ribbon Campaign and Run is not just a symbolic gesture, but a call to action for men to stand up and be allies in the fight against GBV.

"It's a call to create a society where GBV is unacceptable and respect and equality are the norm," she said.