Livia Firth in conversation with Robin Wright & Karen Fowler

Image Credit: Darren Gerrish

Tonight, Livia Firth joined co-founders of Pour Les Femmes, House of Cards star Robin Wright and Karen Fowler, for an evening talk hosted by MATCHESFASHION.COM at 5 Carlos Place about why fashion has a duty to empower women. 

Pour Les Femmes (translated from French meaning ‘For The Women’) is a socially conscious sleepwear line, produced by Congolose women who have survived violence. The brand also works with NGO Action Kivu, who work with women and children in Congo through vocational training and education.  

About her brand, Robin says: “Pour les Femmes is so much more than a women’s sleepwear company – this is something I believe in because we help address the right of a woman to feel safe in her environment. The mission of this brand is to design sleepwear that symbolises the comfort and security which is our basic human right.”

Here are our favourite takeaways from last night’s talk.

“Women are used as a weapon of war, and it is connected to the minerals that are in our gadgets,”
 said Robin Wright on what she had witnessed in the Congo that inspired the launch of her pyjama label Pour les Femmes. “No one knows that we are indirectly yet directly fuelling this war,” she said, explaining that for the minerals used in gadgets such as smart phones, the Congalese militia are going into the areas near the mines and dismantling villages and raping the women. Sadly, in their culture, when a woman is raped she is disowned by her family as it’s seen as her fault. The women are then left with no one and fatherless children to take care of.

“The change was pretty immediate,” said Robin Wright as she and her co-founder Karen Fowler explained how they have empowered these women with a job thanks to the help of local NGOs. They have partnered with Goma-based program GiveWork, which provides the women with sewing training. Every item created gives a woman a day’s work. She is then able, even with just $20 dollars, to provide for her children and feel more independent again. 

“The Domino Effect” The two co-founders of Pour Les Femmes have seen a real domino effect in the village as women who have taken sewing lessons and empowered themselves, found value and purpose through the skill, are now passing on the craft to other women. The perfect example of how a business with a social responsibility can go a long way to create true change. 

“If you spend a little more money, someone gets a fair wage,” said Karen Fowler. It’s important to educate the consumer about this so they know they are not only getting a high quality product, but when you consume it’s “great knowing that you’re a participant in helping someone further their life,” Robin added.

Watch the full talk here.