White ribbon

The white ribbon, a white-colored ribbon or representation of a white-colored ribbon, has several different meanings depending on the context. As with other color ribbons, is sometimes used by political movements to signify or spread their beliefs. In that context, it is usually worn on garments or represented in propaganda (posters, leaflets, etc.).

. The WCTU is the oldest continuing non-sectarian womens organization worldwide. The white ribbon bow was selected to symbolize purity. [Citation
year = 2008
title = WCTU official web site History page
url = http://www.wctu.org/earlyhistory.html
] The WCTU traditionally uses the bow rather than the more modern "remembrance" loop.

One of the most notable usages of the white ribbon in recent times is as the symbol of violence against women, safe motherhood, and other related causes. It also has a long tradition in state fairs and similar farming and horticultural competitions in the United States and Canada.

The anti-violence against women movement

After the École Polytechnique massacre on December 6, 1989, where 14 women were killed by an anti-feminist, a movement appeared in Canada of wearing the white ribbon to signify opposition to violence against women.

The "White Ribbon Campaign" appeared in 1991 in relation to this movement. Started by activists, such as Michael Kaufman and Toronto politicians like current New Democratic Party leader Jack Layton, it has now spread to over 35 countries around the world. It is now an international effort of men and boys working to end violence against women. Its basic principle is the importance of men and boys to speak out against all forms of violence against women.

The National Day of Remembrance and Action on Violence Against Women is observed annually on December 6 in Canada.


It has been used by some feminists as a symbol of their movement.

Quebec peace movement

In the beginning of 2003, a custom, largely influenced by the Échec à la guerre collective, emerged in Quebec of wearing the white ribbon to show a belief in the need for peace (mostly in opposition to the then-impending war in Iraq). The roots of the choice of the white ribbon are probably the traditional association of white with peace and the White Ribbon Campaign.

Premier Bernard Landry took to wearing the white ribbon and the other two main party leaders in Quebec, Jean Charest and Mario Dumont, followed suit.

U.S. county and state fairs

At county and state fairs in the United States, a white ribbon often denotes a third-place finish in a contest.

In some judging competitions — particularly in 4-H and FFA livestock and horticultural competitions — it can be given to a project that is particularly deficient or inferiorFact|date=February 2007. Superior projects and exhibits are awarded blue or red ribbons.


Thomas S. Monson, president of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints in a 1991 speech quotes prison warden Kenyon J. Scudder from a 1961 Reader's Digest article [John Kord Lagemann, The Reader’s Digest, Mar. 1961, pp. 41–42] to tell a story of a man who's family uses the white ribbon as a sign of forgiveness. [http://www.lds.org/ldsorg/v/index.jsp?vgnextoid=2354fccf2b7db010VgnVCM1000004d82620aRCRD&locale=0&sourceId=b720b850e318b010VgnVCM1000004d82620a____&hideNav=1] and cites the story as the precursor to the tradition of the yellow ribbon for welcome home and forgiveness: : "A friend of his happened to be sitting in a railroad coach next to a young man who was obviously depressed. Finally the young man revealed that he was a paroled convict returning from a distant prison. His imprisonment had brought shame to his family, and they had neither visited him nor written often. He hoped, however, that this was only because they were too poor to travel and too uneducated to write. He hoped, despite the evidence, that they had forgiven him.

: To make it easy for them, however, he had written to them asking that they put up a signal for him when the train passed their little farm on the outskirts of town. If his family had forgiven him, they were to put up a white ribbon in the big apple tree which stood near the tracks. If they didn’t want him to return, they were to do nothing, and he would remain on the train as it traveled onward.

: As the train neared his hometown, the suspense became so great that he couldn’t bear to look out of his window. He exclaimed, “In just five minutes the engineer will sound the whistle indicating our approach to the long bend which opens into the valley I know as home. Will you watch for the apple tree at the side of the track?” His companion said he would; they exchanged places. The minutes seemed like hours, but then there came the shrill sound of the train whistle. The young man asked, “Can you see the tree? Is there a white ribbon?”

: Came the reply, “I see the tree. I see not one white ribbon, but many. There is a white ribbon on every branch. Son, s: omeone surely does love you.”

Other uses/combined with other colours

White ribbons are used to signify support for self-harmers (from people who are not self-harmers themselves), while white and orange ribbons represent self-harmers who are trying to quit or have succeeded in doing so already.
In Belgium, white ribbon is a pro-capital punishment symbol.

ee also

*Stop Violence Against Women, a campaign of Amnesty International
*White flag
*Symbolism of white

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