Unlock the Future

Welcome to Unlock the Future

for

Pacwoman Productions

We print heroines on bags!
We dedicate ourselves to the promotion of heroines;
women who fought for the rights and freedom we now have and who paved the way for us;
as women, as people, as a culture and as interconnected global citizens.
 

Sometime in the future we will - besides heroines - also print historical events and heroes on bags, since we at Unlock the Future adore courageous and non-traditional or groundbreaking men as well!

Namaste fellow space-travellers!

 

 

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Blog

The idea for Unlock the Future began while running a small business in east London, where the whole world seems to come round to catch a glimpse of what is considered an authentic, creative or ‘alternative’ part of London. 

But besides the still many amazing and independent shops and galleries, its street-art and very diverse mix of people, London’s east end - like the rest of the world - seems to be slowly turning into just another shopping centre filled with global chains like Pret A Manger, Tesco’s, Urban outfitters, Ben Sherman and H&M. This made me start to wonder with what kind of image of east London the average tourist must go back home with.

Mountain View

Blog

Also since London is a city that has the second largest immigrant population in the world; what do you expect first generation immigrants to know about who struggled for women’s and workers rights, fought for this welfare system or who set up unions?

And generally speaking how many people take the time to find out who actually built the churches and monuments or battled for the right to healthcare and the right to vote in Great Britain? Probably not many, so imagine how much (or little) first - or even second - generation immigrants must know.

Being an immigrant myself, I speak from experience, since I know how demanding it is to set up a new life and start from scratch in a foreign country.

So what is the real legacy of London’s east end? Who built these streets and buildings, this city? Who fought for women’s rights or workers rights? Who and where are the real heroes and heroines? And why are they not visible in public life and somehow being ignored?

What an insult to Great Britain’s incredible heritage and the resilience of the amazing people who built and contributed to this culture and who fought for the rights that people from all over the world who now live and work or study here can enjoy!

Time to Unlock the Future!

 

The First Topic

Since a major part of their story and battleground took place in east London, where Pacwoman Productions is based, the almost inevitable first choice as subjects to be printed on a bag were the suffragettes, the amazing women who fought for the right for women to vote and demanded equal rights. 

Although we as women - and people - owe so much to their efforts and struggle, they seem to have been erased and are virtually non-existent in London’s east end today.

I have, for example, never noticed a monument or landmark for a suffragette or female activist at a prominent location and I don’t think that any street or pub is named after them. Also, in all the time that I have run my business in east London I have never seen advertisements or shop windows referring to them.

 

 
 
Mountain View

The First Topic

Although throughout the UK there are occasional memorial plaques or statues, in east London I’ve never come across a Pankhurst square or a Fawcett road and the only street named after the visionary social reformer and women’s rights activist Annie Besant is in Chennai in India, where - rightly - a whole neighbourhood is named in her honour.

Another interesting thing that I noticed on the website of the UK parliament while doing my research is that - besides giving loads of fascinating information and insights - the only suffragette (a ‘case’ study) prominently being featured is Emily Davison, the suffragette who died under the King’s horse in 1913. As if still to say: look, this is what happens to disobedient women. This is strange, to say the least, given that there were thousands of them!

Since I have been exploring the lives of some of these women for quite a while now, I realize how ahead of their time they were and feel a deep admiration for them. Amazingly strong women, although living in an era where society and public opinion was completely against them, who dared to risk everything - whether it was their marriage, their reputation, the custody of their children and even their own bodies and health - for their ideals and beliefs.

How sad that their colourful and often unconventional lives, battles, achievements and heritage are not general knowledge and aren’t being kept alive as an important part of Britain’s culture.

Shouldn't the British people or the government, whether on a local or national level, take more pride in the fact that it was their women (and men!) who changed the course of history? If I had been born in the UK myself, I would feel extremely proud of the fact that people from my country were intelligent and strong enough to demand equal rights and citizenship, rights that in most countries today are considered universal values.

True pioneers, ahead of their time who refused to be marginalized by history, by challenging the system and the people deciding who and what will be written in the history books.

So - as mentioned - although having studied, worked and lived in the UK, for a long time I was hardly aware of the contribution of the suffragettes either. Then, if this was so for me - although a foreigner - a Northern European woman from a culture not so alien to the UK, the idea of how little other immigrants, whether Eastern European, African or Middle Eastern, must know is quite depressing.

I also don’t think that the average person from Bangladesh or Somalia, who now makes up a large part of the population of London’s east end, has much awareness of the historic significance of the area or the women who, besides struggling for equal rights for women, fought to establish social and political rights as well.

The right to vote, the right to study, the right to have an abortion, the right to own a property, the right for a woman and a man to live together without being married, the right to drive a car - or even bike - the right to divorce, the right to sexual independence, all these important rights were fought for at a cost.

Anyone who thinks that these rights have always been here in the UK and that all this happened overnight and without a struggle, think again! And if you do think again, you are Unlocking the Future!

 
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The Bag

I understand that not everyone has the time or interest to research a piece of the past but I hope to bring back at least a few of the names of people or events that very much deserve to be remembered. 

Especially in this time of information overload and kind of having Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder (or AD/HD) myself, printing interesting people and historical events on a bag spreads information and sparks interest or discussion in a playful way.

Unlock The Future Bag

The Bag

This also to counteract the visual ‘terrorism’ that surrounds us everywhere from brands that are already very big and powerful. Why do we carry bags with Sainsbury’s, Office, Accessorize, Tommy Hilfiger or other multinationals printed on them? And if we don’t mind advertising them, what do they stand for?

Why don’t we create our own visual ‘counter terrorism’ by choosing and honouring some real heroines and heroes? Also, especially in this digital do it yourself/DIY-age, let’s promote and define ourselves instead of big business!

So the next time you’re on a bus or train I hope your eye falls on an Unlock the future bag and that instead of sending another tweet or snap-chat to all your online friends, your curiosity is sparked and you look up the name of this person and read something about her - or his - life.

Honouring the people that put so much effort and energy in for us by remembering them. If you do you will find yourself unlocking the future!

Because the person that knows the past can better see - through - the future.

Buy

The bags are 42 by 38 cm, 100% pure cotton and are hand printed on both sides. All bags are £10 each with free UK delivery. Buy the whole set of 6 bags with the individual suffragettes and get nearly two bags for free, so the set of 6 bags for £45 instead of £60!

10% from the sale of each bag is donated to a charity that contributes to the freedom or development of women. The first charity chosen by Unlock the future for Pacwoman Productions is the ahafoundation, set up by the Somali/Dutch Ayaan Hirsi Ali.

Buy the bag here >

Unlock The Future Bag

Bag descripton

This deeply inspirational woman - and true lioness - has shown great courage, risking her life to voice the injustice she sees around her. Ayaan has channeled her life experiences, and the attention she gained, towards the AHA Foundation.

This organization is determined to end honour violence and protect women and girls in the USA from the violence she - and many others she knew - faced. Women’s rights are human rights or to say it with Ayaan’s words: we will NOT tolerate the intolerable!

www.theahafoundation.org

 

Sites we like

Some links to blogs, articles and pictures of women, their struggles and achievements,
from east London to worldwide.

* Powerful pictures of women fighting for their right to vote. https://www.buzzfeed.com/alanwhite/28-powerful-pictures-of-women-fighting-for-their-right-to-vo?utm_term=.qsZ2yr3My#.gjEzR0kpR

* Amazing pictures from ‘The Women's Library collection’. https://www.flickr.com/photos/lselibrary/sets/72157660822880401

* Article investigating the campaign of terror orchestrated by the Edwardian suffragette movement, which asks why it has been neglected by historians. http://www.historytoday.com/fern-riddell/weaker-sex-violence-and-suffragette-movement

* A blog about where to find historic locations connected to Sylvia Pankhurst and the East End Suffragettes in east London. https://inspiringcity.com/2015/11/25/sylvia-pankhurst-and-the-east-end-suffragettes-historic-locations-and-where-to-find-them/

* Article about the lack of representation of women on the world's city streets, from Rome to Kabul. http://www.zdnet.com/article/are-street-signs-sexist/

* Pirates, scientists, astronomers and athletes; a blog celebrating some of the many women history forgot. “Well-behaved women rarely make history”; these women misbehaved, but where are they in our history books? http://historicalheroines.tumblr.com/

* Organization that gives grants to projects in the UK and internationally that support women. http://www.feminist-review-trust.com/

* The Feminist Library holds a large archive collection of Women’s liberation movement literature, particularly second-wave materials dating from the late 1960s to the 1990s, giving insights to women’s lives across the world. http://feministlibrary.co.uk/

* American website with articles, maps and often very shocking stories, as well as a powerful recommended reading list. The title says it all: ‘History isn't what happened, but a story of what happened.’ http://www.historyisaweapon.com/

* Some interesting presents featuring the suffragettes; from books and playing cars to tote bags and posters, available from the Museum of London shop. http://www.museumoflondonshop.co.uk/store/category/7/73/Suffragettes/

* This amazing site with loads of heroines and inspiring women gives a wealth of information about their oppression, struggles and glory. http://www.historyofwomen.org/biogs.html

 

* Website from the Roman Road Trust in London, which features local heroes and heroines as well as his/her-storic information. http://romanroadlondon.com/sylvia-pankhurst-198-bow-road-1000px-wm/

* Great article on about men who supported universal suffrage for women. These included leading politicians, intellectuals as well as church leaders, army officers and academics. http://spartacus-educational.com/Wmen.htm

 * Project that invites women to share their stories of sexism experienced on a day to day basis in on a modern society that perceives itself to have achieved gender equality, where it seems to be increasingly difficult to talk about sexism, equality and women’s rights.  http://everydaysexism.com/

* The Fawcettsociety is the UK’s leading charity campaigning for gender equality and women’s rights. http://www.fawcettsociety.org.uk/

 * Website of ‘One Billion Rising’, the biggest mass action to end violence against women in human his/herstory, launched in 2012. http://www.onebillionrising.org/

* Site that focuses on finding memorials in London, putting them on a map and logging them in a searchable database, thus providing a powerful research tool. http://www.londonremembers.com/about

* Website created as an interactive resource, giving information about Sylvia Pankhurst.  http://www.sylviapankhurst.com/her_campaigns/sylvia_east_end.php

* A national association and charity for the promotion of women’s history and the encouragement of women and men interested in women’s history. http://womenshistorynetwork.org/

* Brazilian blog - written in Portuguese - with loads of inspiring articles, links for and about women. http://ovelhamag.com/lets-celebrate-women/

* Website from ‘The National Women’s History Project’ in America. Organization that celebrates the accomplishments of women by providing information as well as educational and promotional materials. http://www.nwhp.org/

* Website from the ahafoundation, set up by the Somali/Dutch Ayaan Hirsi Ali. This organisation is determined to end honour violence and protect women and girls in the USA from the violence Ayaan - and many others she knew - faced. http://www.theahafoundation.org/

A list of famous influential women who changed the world, including women’s rights activists, female poets, musicians, politicians, humanitarians and scientists.http://www.biographyonline.net/people/women-who-changed-world.html

* East end suffragette map on ‘Spitalfieldslife’ by the ‘gentle author’. This blog gives a wealth of information and should be made a compulsory read for every school child (or everyone!) in Britain.http://spitalfieldslife.com/2014/08/03/east-end-suffragette-map/

* Site listing his/her-storical places in Bow in East London. http://www.exploringeastlondon.co.uk/eel/Bow/Bow.htm

* Website with critical biographies of radical legends featuring Ellen Wilkinson and Sylvia Pankhurst, Hugo Chaves, Leila Khaled and Salvador Allende. http://www.revolutionarylives.co.uk/books/

* East End Women: The Real Story is an exhibition celebrating women's involvement and leadership in social and political change. The exhibition tells stories of some of the amazing women who have shaped the history of the End East and beyond. http://www.eewtherealstory.com/about-us/

* Site with loads of information about the suffragettes by Aurora Metro, which organizes the Virginia prize, a competition for women novelists. http://www.thesuffragettes.org/

* One of the many interesting articles on the website of the parliament of the UK about male supporters of women's suffrage. http://www.parliament.uk/about/living-heritage/transformingsociety/electionsvoting/womenvote/overview/male-sympathisers/

 * Blog discussing the tradition of taking a father’s surname at birth and then a husband’s at marriage, stating that this is not a universal custom. http://womenshistorynetwork.org/blog/?p=307&cpage=1#comment-60707

* A blog celebrating the achievements of young female activists and campaigners. https://hercause.wordpress.com/

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Contact

We can research any subject and have it printed on a bag, whether heroines, heroes or historical events. Please drop us an email with your ideas and we will get back to you.

Our email is: info@unlockthefuture.net

For wholesale enquiries please email: wholesale@unlockthefuture.net

For general information please email: pacwomanproductions@gmail.com

 

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