Anna Diamantopoulou :
In order to break the silence surrounding violence against women, European prime ministers and members of parliament will be invited to wear a white ribbon, symbolising their determination to draw public attention to this crime, starting from 25 November, the International Day against Violence against Women.
The 'White Ribbon' Campaign originated in 1991 as a reaction by Canadian men to the killing of 14 women students at the University of Montreal. A number of NGOs and other organisations have since taken up the cause. In Europe, the white ribbon motif is known in Austria, Belgium, Finland, Germany, Spain and Sweden but little elsewhere.
Unit for Equal Opportunities for women and men
In response to the 1997 European Parliament resolution on the need to establish a European Union wide campaign for zero tolerance of violence against women, the European Commission has been conducting in 1999/2000 a European campaign to raise awareness on violence against women. The campaign is intended to promote increased awareness among European citizens of violence against women, with particular emphasis on domestic violence.
This campaign fits into the follow-up to the 1995 Beijing platform and demonstrates the Commission's resolve and commitment to integrate the gender dimension in all its policies. The Commission likewise undertakes specific programmes to tackle the problem of violence (DAPHNE, STOP).
The campaign is buildt on the EU's fundamental commitment to defend women's rights as human rights and endeavoures to stem violent behaviour. The campaign put across the following messages:
"elimination of all forms of violence, including domestic violence, is an absolute priority"
"zero tolerance of violence against women"
The Commission has carried out a range of initiatives, including the dissemination of the findings of studies and research conducted in the Member States, in order to get these messages across effectively. In this context, the former Commissioner Anita Gradin presented on 14 July 1999 the Eurobarometer n°51.0 on "Europeans and their views on domestic violence against women".
To have the broadest possible impact on European citizens, the campaign has encompassed radio and television advertising. Slogans and relevant messages have also been dispersed via the Internet. Additional materials, such as posters and brochures, have been circulating through the relevant national Ministries, local authorities and NGOs as well as the Commission information networks and the Commission offices in the Member States (partner organisations).
A European interministerial conference on violence against women was held in Cologne in March 1999 (recommendations), under the German Council Presidency, an expert meeting on violence against women was organised by the Finish Presidency in Jyväskylä in November 1999 (press release, recommendations) and the closing conference took place in May 2000 in Lisbon under the Portuguese Council Presidency (press release, study in PDF format)