The WI and Joyce Watson MS mark the International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women and White Ribbon Day

On 23 November, the National Federation of Women’s Institutes (NFWI)-Wales and Joyce Watson MS, will be bringing stakeholders and supporters together virtually to mark the International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women and White Ribbon Day, which both take place on 25 November.

A stakeholder event focusing on violence against women in rural communities will take place between 10am and 11.30am on 23 November. This event will explore some of the current challenges in delivering and accessing services in rural communities and possible solutions. West Wales Domestic Abuse Service will share their first-hand experiences as a service provider in a rural area followed by panel contributions from Welsh Women’s Aid and North Wales Police. Jane Hutt MS, Deputy Minister and Chief Whip, will also address the event.

At 6pm, a virtual candlelight vigil will be held to show solidarity with victims and survivors of violence against women across the world. The event will hear from a domestic abuse survivor; a White Ribbon ambassador; Deputy Minister Jane Hutt MS; Dame Vera Baird QC, Victims’ Commissioner for England and Wales; and cross-party representatives. Participants will be invited to light a candle and to share a photo of their candle on social media.

These events form part of the annual Not in my Name campaign, established by NFWI-Wales and Joyce Watson AM in 2012, to recruit male ambassadors to make a pledge to never commit, excuse or remain silent about VAW.
Mair Stephens, Chair of NFWI-Wales, said:

“Now, more than ever, it is crucial that ending violence against women remains a priority. During the Covid-19 pandemic, we have seen the impact of the silent pandemic of domestic abuse with a rise of 49% during lockdown in contact made to the Live Fear Free helpline . Research by Women’s Aid found that that situation had worsened for 61% of victims since Covid-19 and one in ten victims had stated that their perpetrators used lockdown to stop them leaving.

“We must all continue to play our part in challenging the attitudes and behaviours that persist in our society to send out a powerful message that violence against women is unacceptable and will not be tolerated. We will continue to use the voice of the WI to raise awareness and campaign for action to help achieve a society where women are free from the fear of violence and abuse.”
Joyce Watson MS, Member of the Senedd for Mid and West Wales added:

“This is the first time this vigil will be held virtually due to coronavirus restrictions, 18 years after we started White Ribbon campaigning in Wales.

“While I will miss physically standing together, we will virtually stand shoulder to shoulder with people throughout Wales to campaign against abuse.

“This year’s focus on rural communities will highlight huge challenges to deliver and access limited services, particularly during a pandemic.

“The figures are stark – at least 115 UK women, five of them in Wales, were killed last year (2019) either by a man or with a male lead suspect.

“Too many women live in fear of violence, and too many children grow up witnessing the cycle of violence.

“We all need to play our part to change the culture, so young people see respect and healthy relationships as the norm.”