On 8th December 2015, the White Ribbon Campaign Switzerland (Ruban Blanc – Campagne Suisse) on raising awareness on violence against women held its Annual Conference on the theme “Creating an idea whose time has come  – the elimination of violence against women and girls” (“Créer une idée dont le temps est venu – l’élimination de la violence à l’égard des femmes”). The Geneva Centre, represented by Mr. Ricardo Espinosa, Executive Director a.i. and Swiss White Ribbon Ambassador, was invited to join the conference and contribute to the discussion.

The conference included two panels: 1) General update on the status of violence against women and girls and the work of the White Ribbon Campaign Switzerland; and 2) Different approaches to advance the elimination of violence against women and girls. Mr. Ricardo Espinosa, Executive Director a.i. of the Geneva Centre, was invited to moderate the second panel, which engaged orators from various fields, including sexual and reproductive health experts, gender researchers, nonviolent communication trainers, and youth representatives.

The debate focused on identifying and discussing ways to achieve the elimination of violence against women and girls by 2030, an ambitious objective enshrined in the Sustainable Development Goals. One key message was the need to transform this objective from an idea into concrete actions. To this purpose, the general mind-set and perceptions about women and gender equality must change. It was also stated that there is a need to mobilize actors from all fields, including educational, institutional and legislative. Through personal experiences, the panellists highlighted the need to rethink the understanding of gender and concepts such as masculinity and femininity, as well as to actively promote gender equality, particularly by educating the youth, but also by reaching out to all segments of society.

The conference benefited from the presence of high-level panellists from diverse backgrounds and areas of expertise, many of whom are active Swiss White Ribbon Ambassadors as well. Among the participants were: Esther Alder, Mayor of Geneva; David Bourgoz, Representative of the State Council of the Canton of Geneva and delegate on domestic violence, Colette Fry, Head of the Office for the promotion of gender equality and the prevention of domestic violence of the Canton of Geneva (Bureau de la promotion de l’égalité entre femmes et hommes et de prevention des violences domestiques – BPEV); Pierre Kolly, Director General of mandatory education in the Department of public instruction, culture and sports (Département de l’instruction publique, de la culture et du sport – DIP); Huy Vibourel, President of the Fondation Au Coeur des Grottes; Jean-Marc Richard, radio and TV journalist at RTS (Radio Télévision Suisse).

The Geneva Centre would like to thank the White Ribbon Campaign Switzerland for convening this conference and inviting the Centre to raise its voice on the important issue of eliminating all forms of violence against women and girls. The respect of human rights for all and, particularly, the promotion of a culture of peace and nonviolence are at the core of the work of the Geneva Centre.

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