Councillors make the White Ribbon promise


Friday, 1 December, 2023

Last night (30 November 2023), Woking Borough Council members collectively promised to never commit, excuse or remain silent about male violence against women and girls.

The White Ribbon promise, which can be made by both men and women, aims to change long-established and harmful attitudes, systems and behaviours around masculinity that perpetuate inequality and violence.

A recent survey of 500 Surrey residents has revealed that one in four women (and one in five men) have experienced street harassment or unwelcome attention in the last 12 months. 

The survey, conducted by YouGov, also found that 47% of all respondents lacked confidence in knowing what to do if they witnessed street harassment.

Cllr Ellen Nicholson, Woking Borough Council’s Portfolio Holder for Living Well, said: “We need to change the story for women and girls, so that they may live their lives free from harassment and the fear of violence. Some behaviours and words may seem ‘harmless’ but normalising them ignores the short and long-term effects on women and can lead to more extreme, unacceptable behaviours by men.

“Culture change requires everyone to do their bit, and I’m pleased to see members from all political parties, standing together, and wearing their white ribbons in support of change.

“White Ribbon Day takes place on the 25 November each year and is followed by 16 days of action. During this period, I urge residents to join us in making the White Ribbon promise and commit to promoting a culture of equality and respect.” 

1 in 4 women in the UK experience domestic abuse at some point in their adult lives. Sadly, on average, two women a week are killed by their partner/ex-partner in England and Wales, and three women a week take their own lives as a result of the domestic abuse they have experienced.

During the meeting of Full Council, Cllr Nicholson provided an update on the work the council is doing with partners such as the Women’s Support Centre and Your Sanctuary, to tackle domestic abuse locally and raise awareness of the support available. 

During the 16 days of action both elected members and council officers have been invited to participate in awareness sessions, which supports the council’s work towards becoming a White Ribbon accredited organisation. Residents can take part in free, online bystander training provided by The Suzi Lamplugh Trust.

Make the White Ribbon promise