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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 White Ribbon has been the badge of the Woman's Christian Temperance Union founded by Frances Willard since its founding in 1873. The WCTU claims to be the oldest continuing non-sectarian women's organization worldwide. However the oldest continuing non-sectarian women's organization is the LDS Relief Society founded in 1842. The white ribbon bow was selected to symbolize purity. The WCTU traditionally uses the bow rather than the more modern "remembrance" loop.
It also has a long tradition in state fairs and similar farming and horticultural competitions in the United States and Canada as a third-place ribbon.
After the École Polytechnique massacre on December 6, 1989, where 14 women were killed by an anti-feminist, a movement formed in Canada involving men wearing the white ribbon to signify opposition to violence against women.
The White Ribbon Campaign (WRC) appeared in 1991 in relation to this movement and became one of the largest men's anti-violence programs in the world. Started by activists, such as Michael Kaufman and Toronto politicians like the late New Democratic Party leader Jack Layton, it has now spread to over 57 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. For that purpose, members of the WRC offer a variety of presentations and workshops on violence. In Canada, the campaign is run from November 25 (the International Day for the Eradication of Violence Against Women) until December 6, Canada's National Day of Remembrance and Action on Violence Against Women. Other countries support 16 Days of Action from November 25 until December 10 but campaigns can occur at any time of the year.
The white ribbon has been adopted by male feminists in Canada and the United Kingdom as a symbol of support for women's from a feminist perspective and equal rights, and an anti-domestic violence stance.
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.
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 inferior. Superior projects and exhibits are awarded blue or red ribbons.
In Russia the white ribbon emerged in October 2011 as a symbol of opposition and since the elections has picked up momentum. Many Russians have been tying it to their clothing, cars, and other objects, and the motif has appeared on runet and on Twitter. By 10 December, the Dozhd television channel was showing a white ribbon by its on-screen logo. The station's owner, Natalya Sindeyeva, explained this as being a sign of "sincerity", rather than "propaganda", and an attempt to be "mediators" instead of simply journalists. NTV described 10 December as the day of "white ribbons". The white ribbons used by Russian protesters seemed to confuse Vladimir Putin who compared them to condoms being used as a symbol of the fight against AIDS.
It also means friendship.
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.
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