Russia is in the news with the Winter Olympics in the Black Sea resort town of Sochi but it is important to remember the impact of Russian government policies on free speech and women’s rights. A new canvas bag featuring Pussy Riot puts the spotlight on women’s right all over the world.

Supporting women’s rights and WILPF by buying a canvas bag

Axisweb, a website dedicated to the growth of the art community in the United Kingdom, have released a limited edition canvas bag supporting women’s rights. The bag boasts a profile of one the members of the Pussy Riot band arrested in Russia almost two years ago. £2 from every bag sold is donated to WILPF United Kingdom.

WILPF International interviewed Annie Nelson, the Audience Development Coordinator of the art community website Axisweb and a long-standing member of WILPF United Kingdom about the release of the bag.

WILPF: What were your intentions behind attaching a piece of art to a canvas bag? Also, what do you think this bag will achieve in regards to raising the awareness of women’s rights?

Annie: Every year we produce a limited edition bag to promote the work of a member from our directory. We aim to give artists, curators and art professionals a versatile and influential platform for presenting their practice. Our commitment to strengthening the contribution of the visual arts to society influences our campaign decisions. With the Winter Olympics currently taking place in Russia and Manifesta 10, the European Biennial of Contemporary Art, set to open in the summer of 2014 at the Hermitage in St. Petersburg, there is a huge amount of discussion around the abuse of human rights in Russia. The debates surrounding these events provide a platform to push conversation about equality. We like Wendy Saunders’ portraits of the Pussy Riot protestors. Using this image on the bag gave us a great way to support one of our artists, as well as to promote and support equality and women’s rights.

WILPF: You have decided to donate £2 from every bag sold to WILPF, why? 

Annie: The bags themselves are part of the campaign to both promote the work of a British contemporary artist, alongside building awareness and sparking debate around issues of free speech, women’s rights and equality. The bags are a great way of creating excitement and provoking debate, both on digital platforms and out on the streets… Connecting with WILPF on this campaign and making a donation of £2 from the sale of every bag not only ensures that we can offer a small amount of financial support towards a great organisation, but it also brings together two very different audiences. In doing this, we stimulate debate and hopefully reach out further than either organisation could on its own. 

WILPF: How many bags have you sold so far?

Annie: So far we have sold a total of 55 bags. The response has been very exciting and, as the campaign builds, we hope to reach all corners of the globe. It would be great if bags around the world were filled with groceries, books, swimming kits and proudly proclaiming our support of women’s rights. 

WILPF: As a member of the WILPF United Kingdom, what initially drew you to WILPF?

Annie: I was initially drawn to WILPF by my mother and two inspirational members who lived next door to me as I grew up. As a young child I was in awe of their dedication, strength and belief in what was possible – something that will continue to influence me for the rest of my life.

If you’d like to support this cause and add a touch of style then get in early before they are sold out. You can do so on the Axisweb website and support international women’s rights.

Buy your bag today!