White Ribbon Workshop

In this year’s campaign, White Ribbon is focusing on ‘Respectful Relationships.’

Respectful relationships’ is a simple description of the positive behaviour we want to be normal for everyone, instead of men’s violence against women being too often an everyday occurrence.

It involves using communication skills to safely share feelings and concerns, as well as treating partners as equals and ensure that consent is the basis of all relationships.

These building blocks have been proven to prevent violence and create happier, healthier lives for everyone

Within the campaign White Ribbon is also targeting the risks of sexual violence by promoting ’consent’. ‘Consent’ means there’s agreement by all participants in any sexual activity. If someone disagrees to the activity but the other person continues, it is sexual violence. By promoting consent, White Ribbon is working to prevent men’s sexual violence toward women. Mutual agreement (consent) is a significant aspect of a respectful relationship.

White Ribbon Ambassador Mark Longley talks about the campaign

White Ribbon Ambassador Mark Longley talks about the campaign

A key part of ‘respectful relationships’ is men treating women as equals by genuinely sharing decision-making, listening to her experience and deferring to her expertise. This provides significant protection against violence. This year’s campaign will be flexible so that different communities (and Ambassadors) will be able to explain both ‘respectful relationships’ and ‘consent’ in ways that work for their audiences.

White Ribbon will continue using its key strategy of men role-modelling good behaviour and challenging other men who use violence. That means you’ll be hearing from our White Ribbon Ambassadors, our White Ribbon Riders and anti-violence advocates from all around New Zealand.

This year we will also talk about men acting consistently both in private and public. This means that men will be as respectful towards their partners in private, as they are in public. It will also show that he values women publically as much as he does privately. This fits in with White Ribbon’s focus on changing men’s ‘social norms’ – ways that men think they need to behave around other men.

social norms

Social Norms

‘Social norms’ are how male attitudes and behaviours are shaped by male peers. They are a powerful influence, especially in regard to our notions about male power and how we behave towards women, including using violence. Changing male social norms is a common and proven strategy to preventing male violence.

Most New Zealand men already have respectful relationships with women and do not use violence. In this case, White Ribbon is about strengthening this behaviour and promoting it as the social norm for all men.

This campaign will also include a theme of promoting flexible behaviour. A man holding rigid views on what it means to be a man, or how a woman should behave, is at risk of being violent toward women, especially if he feels his views are threatened. Encouraging men to behave more flexibly, and not limiting them to only doing ‘manly’ things, will help prevent violence.


A relationship I’d like to be part of is… one of mutual respect & consent

Promoting ‘Respectful Relationships’ is a positive approach, which is more effective at getting men to support White Ribbon’s work.This involves: showing positive examples of equitable, respectful behaviour; strengthening current non-violent actions, attitudes and values; and providing a safe environment and framing discussion in terms of men’s responsibility. Internationally, the use of positive and affirmative messages has been proven to be a key feature of successful interventions with men.

White Ribbon is currently developing messages for this year’s campaign. These need to:

  • identify the action we want men to take by specifying desirable behaviour and explaining its benefits.
  • attract men’s attention with positive messages that appeal to men’s sense of responsibility and their positive intentions (such as wanting a better life for their children).
  • motivate men to adopt, or continue to use, respectful behaviour. Men are usually motivated to take action by hearing how women and children are hurt by violence, and/or seeing how violence compromises their religious, ethical or cultural values.
  • be tailored to different male audiences and reflect their diverse identities. For a man to notice White Ribbon messages he will need to see they’re for “people like me”, reflect “my life” and be delivered by messengers who are “from my world”.
Workshopping in progress

Work-shopping in progress

White Ribbon has already held two public workshops with experts, social services, interested organisations and government departments to develop this year’s campaign. At each workshop a presentation was made on Connecting with men – Ideas for White Ribbon 2015. This is available as a PDF (from This presentation is based on and includes the link to a research paper on effectively involving men in preventing violence.

We have also held a number of smaller workshops as we refine the campaign and begin to work with an agency before launching in November. If you have any ideas or wish to participate, please get in touch with us at






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