The pink ribbon is an international symbol of breast cancer awareness. Pink Ribbons, and the color pink in general, identify the wearer or promoter with the breast cancer brand and express moral support for women with breast cancer. Pink ribbons are most commonly seen during National Breast Cancer Awareness Month. 100 women survived breast cancer carry a pink ribbon and create the fight breast cancer logo. The ribbon has been the symbol of awareness and support since 1979. The ubiquity of the symbol was such that even the New York Times declared 1992 “The Year of the Ribbon”.
The color pink is considered feminine in modern Western countries. It evokes traditional feminine gender roles, caring for other people, being beautiful, being good, and being cooperative. The pink ribbon represents fear of breast cancer, hope for the future, and the charitable goodness of people and businesses who publicly support the breast cancer movement. It is intended to evoke solidarity with women who currently have breast cancer.
Breast cancer organizations use the pink ribbon to associate themselves with breast cancer, to promote breast cancer awareness, and to support fundraising. Some breast cancer-related organizations, such as Pink Ribbon International, use the pink ribbon as their primary symbol. Susan G. Komen for the Cure uses a stylized “running ribbon” as their logo.
While specifically representing breast cancer awareness, the pink ribbon is also a symbol and a proxy of goodwill towards women in general. Buying, wearing, displaying, or sponsoring pink ribbons signals that the person or business cares about women. The pink ribbon is a marketing brand for businesses that allows them to promote themselves with women and identify themselves as being socially aware. Compared to other women’s issues, promoting breast cancer awareness is politically safe. Each October, hundreds, if not thousands, of products are emblazoned with pink ribbons, colored pink, or otherwise sold with a promise of a small portion of the total cost being donated to support breast cancer awareness or research. The first breast cancer awareness stamp in the U.S., featuring a pink ribbon, was issued 1996. As it did not sell well, a new stamp with an emphasis on research was designed. The new stamp does not feature the pink ribbon.
In Canada, the Royal Canadian Mint produced a silver commemorative breast cancer coin. 15,000 coins were minted during 2006. On one side of the coin, a portrait of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth is illustrated, while on the other side a pink ribbon has been enameled. Additionally, 30 million 25-cent coins were minted with pink ribbons during 2006 for normal circulation. Designed by the mint’s director of engraving, Cosme Saffioti, this colored coin is the second in history to be put into regular circulation. According to Chief Executive Officer Pink Omer Aftab, Pakistan has the highest rate of breast cancer in whole of Asia with every 9th woman at high risk of getting breast cancer at some point in her life. Prevalence of breast cancer is the maximum amongst all the cancers in Pakistan i.e. 38.5%. Every year 40,000 women are killed with breast cancer in Pakistan and approximately 90,000 new cases are diagnosed, however the number of unreported cases is expected to be much more.
Author is Chief Executive Officer Pink Ribbon Pakistan.