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Queen's University

Talk by White Ribbon Campaign Executive Director looks at ways to stop violence against women

Todd Minerson, Artsci’95, has travelled all over the world trying to inspire men and boys to help stop violence against women. His work has taken him to Nepal, Brazil, Mexico, Sri Lanka, Zambia, Papua New Guinea and throughout Europe and North America.

The next trip for the Executive Director of the White Ribbon Campaign – a project started in Canada in 1991 that has spread to over 60 countries – will be to Kingston. The history graduate is looking forward to bringing his anti gender-based violence message to a Queen’s audience on Thursday, October 17. Todd credits his Queen’s University days for kick-starting his passion for social justice issues.

“When I first started at university, I wanted to be a tax lawyer and make lots of money,” says Todd, who now lives in Toronto.

He arrived at Queen’s at a time when the “No Means No” campaign was taking off around Canadian campuses and there were lots of conversations about gender-based violence and LGBT issues. A combination of some inspiring history professors and Todd’s work as the AMS VP of University Affairs (1993-94) changed his outlook from tax lawyer to social justice.

“I had had some amazing professors – such as Geoff Smith and Karen Dubinsky – who opened my eyes to systems of oppression and justice, as well as power and privilege issues,” says Todd. “My time at the AMS exposed me to the amazing work that happens in communities by social justice organizations and movements.”

After graduating, he had three job offers in one day – one with a business franchise, one at TSN editing sports highlights, and a part-time job offer with an HIV-AIDS organization in Toronto.

Todd followed his instincts and chose the part-time job. It was the right move: he has now been with the White Ribbon Campaign for more than seven years. He feels it is a dream job.

“I don’t know what else I’d be doing. I consider myself lucky to have this job,” says Todd.

His role at White Ribbon has led to several United Nations projects, including the UN Secretary General’s Network of Men Leaders. He was also the co-chair of the Global Symposium on Engaging Men and Boys in Gender Equality in Rio de Janeiro in 2009.

During his talk at Queen's, Todd will talk about strategies to prevent gender-based violence.

Todd wants men to take a critical look at the role power plays in society today. One way he does this during his lectures is to ask the men what they do every day to protect themselves from being sexually assaulted. The men usually make a few jokes, but basically it is not something they consider. Then Todd asks the women – and the list of responses is long, everything from trying to avoid walking alone at night to never leaving their drinks alone at a bar.

“I want men to listen to women’s fears of violence and some of the harmful ideas of masculinity that perpetuate violence,” says Todd. “People need to get involved as a family members, friends, bystanders, and coworkers. There is no end to the way that small steps can add up to big changes.”

Todd’s talk takes place on  Thursday, Oct. 17 at 7:30 pm in Ellis Hall auditorium. Admission is free. This event is open to the community.

Kingston, Ontario, Canada. K7L 3N6. 613.533.2000

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