Minister of Health, Donville Inniss

A Minister of Government has issued a call to action to all males – "Man up and declare that violence against women and girls must end!"

Health Minister, Donville Inniss, made this appeal last Tuesday to participants of a White Ribbon Campaign seminar held at the ACR Business Solutions Centre, Harbour Road, St. Michael.????

He, however, noted that ending violence against women would be an impossible goal without changing the lives of men and boys around the world.?? "There are many practical suggestions that can be implemented to facilitate change… Most of you see yourselves as good men, but no man can be allowed to be passive about the issues of women and girls, especially in relation to violence," Mr. Inniss said.??

The official called for rehabilitation programmes for violent men based on self-respect; educational campaigns to halt violence; legal and judicial reforms to ensure prosecution and facilitation of victims’ rights and the promotion of campaigns that sought to end the "pattern of silencing".

"Although the White Ribbon Campaign is primarily a campaign of men and aimed at boys and young men, women’s organisations worldwide have been involved in encouraging and supporting these campaigns. This is also the case here in Barbados. It is essential for men’s groups to have on-going dialogue with women’s groups in communities, since real progress can only be achieved through partnerships," he added.

In recognising that gender-based violence would mean changing cultural concepts, the Health Minister noted that it was perceived by some men as a display of masculinity.

"Violence is not acceptable or normal… Together we can change deeply rooted attitudes and practices that discriminate against women and girls. Together we can change that paradigm of masculinity that allows for the resolution of conflict through violence. Together we can break down gender barriers and ensure that the voices of women are heard. This process must actively engage men, whether they are policy makers, parents, spouses or young boys," Minister Inniss emphasised.

The White Ribbon Campaign began in 1991 in Canada, when a small group of men urged others to speak out about all forms of violence perpetrated against women. The campaign has since developed into the largest effort in the world of men working together to end men’s violence against women.?? In November 2004, Barbados established its own chapter, when the Men’s Health Groups and the Business and Professional Women’s Club, in association with the Barbados Family Planning Association launched a local White Ribbon Campaign.

This Friday, March 25, the Ministry of Health’s Men’s Health groups, in collaboration with the Pan-American Health Organisation and the Ministry of Family, will host a rally to raise awareness about the Campaign.

Individuals and men in particular, are invited to come out in support of the rally.?? It will be held at the Jackie Opel Amphitheatre, General Post Office, Cheapside from 5:00 to 9:00 p.m.??Attorney General and Minister of Home Affairs, Adriel Brathwaite, and visiting consultant and Executive Director of White Ribbon Canada, Todd Minerson, will address the rally.

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