Robin Wright and buddy Karen Fowler team up to create a clothing company that supports embattled women in the Congo.
When she’s not playing the fashionable and ferocious Claire Underwood on Netflix’s powerhouse political drama House of Cards, Robin Wright channels her influence into helping Congolese women who have become victims of sexual violence amidst the conflict mineral trade. Fueled by her own global activism and her decades-long wish to create “the perfect pajamas,” Wright, along with her business partner, designer Karen Fowler, launched Pour Les Femmes, a “socially conscious sleepwear company.” With six new pieces debuting just in time for the holidays, the luxe pajamas are gifts that give back. Wright tells us how.
How did you get involved with the Congo?
Robin Wright: In 2008, I saw the documentary The Greatest Silence: Rape in the Congo, which opened my eyes to the atrocities against women fueled by the conflict mineral trade. Electronics companies are purchasing these minerals, and [we] are buying the electronics. I linked up with the DC-based Enough Project [whose mission is to end genocide and crimes against humanity in Africa], traveled to the Congo, and have been an activist supporting development in the Congo ever since.
You have been active in pushing for an end to the conflict surrounding the mineral trade. It’s our duty. We are using our smartphones and laptops to work, to connect with our families, and these devices are part of the demand for minerals in the Congo. Our hands are in this. Instead of a boycott, we can leverage our consumer pressure to clean up this mess. The more consumers who become aware of this link and who speak out about it to tech companies and on social media, the sooner we achieve a transparent, peaceful mineral trade. We can dry up the revenue source for the Congo’s armed groups responsible for the worst sexual violence on earth. And our approach is based on winning strategies from the blood diamonds struggle, which effectively transformed the diamond industry in West Africa. I am the executive director for the upcoming documentary When Elephants Fight, which will introduce this conflict to new audiences and lead the push towards transparency through the #StandWithCongo campaign. I will keep fighting until there is peace.
How does Pour Les Femmes benefit women in the conflict region?
A portion of the proceeds goes to two civil-society groups—Action Kivu and Synergie des Femmes—which I met with when I was visiting the Congo. They now have a community center, and they’re starting to build a school. They’re able to give vocational training to more of the women, as well as psychological and physical help. It’s endless what they need post-trauma, but basically the methodology is to start by helping them with microfinancing so they can get back on their own feet and have a sustainable life.
Luxurious sleepwear for a good cause. Tell us about the style of Pour Les Femmes. We wanted to build the perfect
- Source: LA Confidential By: Amy Moeller Photo: Michael Simon