The National Day of Remembrance and Action on Violence against Women is a day commemorated in Canada on December 6, to remember the anniversary of the 1989 École Polytechnique Massacre, in which 14 women were singled out for their gender and murdered. In December 1999, the 54th session of the United Nations General Assembly declared November 25th the International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women (later to be called as White Ribbon Day). Respecting this cause in which few men in Canada pledged to fight violence against women; 57 countries in the world prepare, plan and execute various activities relating to White Ribbon Day. It is often marked by vigils, discussions and other reflections on violence against women. It is followed by 16 days of Activism against gender violence.
SNEHA has always believed in bridging the gender gap by not only having a positive bias towards women but also by ensuring that men get involved in the fight against gender bias. The community team of SNEHA intervenes in the cases of gender violence in the community. It also ensures effective sensitisation and involvement of men folk in the community towards the issue.
25th November primararily focuses on the involvement of men in the crusade against gender violence.
25th November in SNEHA is organized on a mass scale. Men associated with SNEHA are encouraged to perform dance, songs, short plays that depict the hazards of all types of gender violence and its repercussions on the family and society. SNEHA was able to elicit participation of many men to express solidarity for the White Ribbon Day. Programme Director of the Prevention of Violence against Women and Children, (PVWC), SNEHA, Dr. Nayreen Daruwalla expressed the need for the involvement of the men in the issue of violence against women. This will ensure equality between the sexes. Giving the example of stalwarts from Maharashtra, viz Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj, Chhatrapati Shahu Maharaj, Mahatma Jyotiba Phule, Dr. B.R. Ambedkar who worked for the cause of upliftment of women, she urged women to take cognizance of the work done by men in this regard.
The programme unfolded with dance, some recited songs they had penned on the issue of gender violence and the youth group performed skits that carried the message of showing respect to women and ending violence against them in whichever way one can. The highpoint of the programme was a fashion show in which leaders of Maharashtra state who have uplifted the status of women through their work and policy formulation were impersonated by the men from SNEHA. These included Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj, Chhatrapati Shahu Maharaj, Mahatma Jyotiba Phule, and Dr. B.R. Ambedkar.
Mr. Hasmukh, a community person in his speech said "We live in a culture where we are socialized to live with and accept atyachaar (violence) One keeps quiet to save ones culture. But we should not live in the culture of silence but instead speak up and lodge a complaint with the police. The family also should support the victim of abuse and violence to file a complaint. The family should not blame the victim herself.' Quoting his example he said 'I am going to teach my daughter till she is a graduate. I have not studied but I will ensure that she will study. She is not a Parayaa dhan. If I educate her she will be able to handle all kinds of hardships she would face. His parting words ring true "Atyachaar karna nahi, Atyachaar sahana nahi'. which means do not perpetrate violence and don’t keep mum about it.
Ms. Madhuri, (a transgender) performed dances, one of which explained what a woman does to meet both her family needs and also her own. Another dance depicted the importance being a woman.
The program ended with a candle light pledge that was taken by all the pledge asked for all to accept the need to respect women, to keep eyes and ears ever open to any kind of violence happening around, saying no to violence and striving to end violence from everyone’s lives.