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Last night (Thursday 30 November), Ulster University Women’s Network in partnership with White Ribbon NI hosted a glittering black-tie gala in the beautiful setting of the Biden Atrium on the University’s Belfast campus.

Attendees included local business and industry partners, friends of the UU Women’s Network and some of UU’s 25@25 future leaders in support of White Ribbon’s 16 Days of Activism Against Gender-Based Violence.

Over the past year, Ulster University has made significant contributions to research, education, prevention and provision of support to staff and students around the area of domestic and sexual violence.

The Gala event highlighted the impact that violence and abuse are having on women in the workplace – affecting how they are able to perform their jobs and how it is acting as another impediment to women’s career progression. Among the findings of a recent survey by Ulster University, one in eight (12%) said violence or abuse at home had a detrimental effect on their work. Shockingly, the survey also found that 16 of 542 women questioned had experienced violence in the workplace.

On the night, Ulster University’s Women’s Network encouraged local businesses to adopt the Listen, Learn, Lead framework by signing the White Ribbon charter, and work towards attaining the White Ribbon accreditation in their workplaces, in support of their female staff.

Hosting the evening local Broadcaster Wendy Austin took to the stage alongside key speakers Tanhee McCorry, Dr Susan Lagdon, and the University’s network Lead on the White Ribbon Listen, Learn Lead framework, Sarah Smyth. Attendees enjoyed a performance by local pianist Ruth McGinley, writer of the White Rhythm Anthem, a contribution of star making toward the End Violence Against Women and Girls, followed by a sponsored prize draw by One Million Stars initiative in aid of White Ribbon NI.

Dr Susan Lagdon, Lead Investigator on Every Voice Matters! Report for The Executive Office addressed on the night. She states, “It has been a privilege to undertake such important research which has provided the evidence on the extensive nature of violence against women and girls living in Northern Ireland. Having the opportunity to speak at tonight’s Gala is invaluable and hopefully will encourage our local businesses to take action in supporting this serious issue”.

Ulster University is the first Higher Education institution to gain the White Ribbon NI Accreditation, signalling the University’s commitment to never to commit, condone or stay silent about violence against women and girls. The Gala event, hosted in partnership with White Ribbon NI, is designed to raise awareness and is part of the University’s commitment to White Ribbon’s Listen, Learn Lead Action Plan.

Tahnee McCorry, CEO of White Ribbon NI, said: “It is great to work in partnership with Ulster University Women’s Network and Ulster University as they continue to embed the Listen , Learn, Lead framework within their organisation. We believe in order to really work towards  a safer society for everyone , we need those in leadership roles - in businesses, in statutory agencies , in churches, in schools and in community groups to stand up and speak out about violence against women and girls.”

For more information visit White Ribbon NI