Residents in Leeds are being urged to participate in White Ribbon Day and the 16 Days of Activism, an annual global campaign advocating for the prevention and eradication of violence against women and girls.

White Ribbon Day falls on the 25th of November, specifically encouraging men to pledge against using, condoning, or staying silent about violence towards women. This day marks the commencement of the 16 Days of Activism against gender-based violence, concluding on the 10th of December.

In recognition of the start of the 16 days, civic buildings in Leeds will illuminate in orange on the 25th of November, following UN Women’s suggestion, symbolizing a future devoid of violence against women and girls.

On the same day, the Woodhouse Moor parkrun, beginning at 9 am, will be White Ribbon-branded. White Ribbon UK, along with councillors, will distribute ribbons, campaign materials, and cakes to around 500 expected runners, emphasizing the campaign’s message.

The White Ribbon parkrun underscores the necessity for women to run and exercise without fearing violence. Many women feel insecure running alone or in the dark, and parkrun events provide a friendly and secure environment for women to participate.

On the 30th of November, the Reclaim the Night march returns to Leeds, where people unite to convey the message that women should feel secure wherever they are in the city, including at night.

Councillor Al Garthwaite, the Lord Mayor of Leeds, a pioneer in establishing the first Reclaim the Night march in 1977, will lead the march on the 30th of November. Participants will gather at the Town Hall steps from 6 pm, with the march commencing at 6.30 pm and concluding at the starting point.

Leeds City Council holds White Ribbon accreditation, demonstrating an enduring commitment to ending violence against women and girls, and has launched various safety initiatives. These include a partnership with the WalkSafe App, a free app promoting safe walking at night in the city.

The app users can identify registered ‘safe spaces,’ such as businesses participating in the Ask for Angela scheme and the Women’s Night Safe Space (mobile bus), a support resource launched in 2022.

Numerous local events and activities are planned throughout the city during the 16 days.

Councillor Debra Coupar, Leeds City Council’s executive member for resources with responsibility for Safer Leeds, said: “Every single woman and girl in Leeds deserves to feel safe and be safe in our city. We’re proud to have White Ribbon accreditation and it is so important that as many men as possible become allies to say that they will not stand by and accept violence against women and girls.,

“The Reclaim the Night movement has its roots in Leeds and it’s an important annual march to demonstrate that women need and deserve to feel safe in our city any time of the day or night.

“White Ribbon Day and 16 Days of Activism is a great opportunity for people to get involved and show their support for the prevention and elimination of violence against women and girls. We need to be absolutely clear that any form of violence is not accepted in Leeds.”

Councillor Julie Heselwood said: “It’s great to see people across the city getting involved in this campaign and we’re pleased to offer many different activities for this important cause and to get men involved in the conversation.

“If you usually run the parkrun or want to do this as your first, please come along to Woodhouse Moor on Saturday 25 November and show your support. If you have a white ribbon already, please wear it!”

Anthea Sully, CEO of White Ribbon UK, said: “I am really pleased to be able to join one of the Leeds parkruns on White Ribbon Day. I grew up in Leeds at a time when women felt especially scared to be out alone at night.

“Leeds City Council are working to make streets in Leeds safer by providing support for women and working with men to recognise and challenge harmful behaviours when they happen so violence is prevented before it starts.”