WOW – Women of the World Festival is set to take place this week (Friday 6th – Sunday 8th March) at Southbank Centre for the 10th year in a row. The festival celebrating women and girls takes place across the International Women’s Day weekend with a line-up of over 25 ticketed events featuring some of the world’s most exciting performers, activists and voices. The festival also includes a packed sold out Day Pass programme on Friday and Saturday featuring dozens of panel discussions, workshops and performances.
The WOW Foundation’s President, HRH The Duchess of Cornwall, will open the festival on Friday morning with a speech about domestic abuse; joining Businesswoman and Campaigner Gina Miller; Survivor, SafeLives Pioneer, domestic abuse and youth violence consultant Naomi Donald; artist, activist and SafeLives Pioneer Celia Peachey; and SafeLives CEO Suzanne Jacob.
In an evening of fun, frank and honest conversation, Scarlett Curtis and special guests from the new film Misbehavior discuss making the film and what feminism means to them in this special live recording of Scarlett’s hit podcast, Feminists Don’t Wear Pink, on Friday. Scarlett will be joined by the real-life Miss World 1970, Jennifer Hosten; the director of the film, Phillipa Lowthorpe; and the writer of the screenplay, Rebecca Frayn Joining the panel to continue discussions about the film industry is leading Intimacy Coordinator and Movement Director Ita O’Brien, who led a successful campaign to publish industry guidelines for scenes involving sex or nudity.
With reports of hate crimes increasing, and some people feeling more ostracised since the UK’s historical referendum, on Friday evening WOW will examine exactly what it means to be British today in Britishness and Power. The panel will comprise Reni Eddo-Lodge, Sumaya Kassim, Dr Nadine El-Enany, Kieran Yates and Chair Fatima Manji. This powerful event will examine what impact the changing political landscape has on the identities of British women, and ask who the keepers of British values are.
Salma Hayek, Fatima Bhutto, Adwoa Aboah, Christiane Amanpour, Sarah Harris, Julia Gillard and Paris Lees all join the panel for British Vogue’s Forces for Change hosted by British Vogue on Saturday evening. Editor in Chief Edward Enninful has invited artists, activists, fashion pioneers and friends to join him for an evening of intimate conversation exploring the key topics that came out of British Vogue’s September Issue guest edited by Meghan, Duchess of Sussex. The Sell-Out September Issue, Forces For Change was the fastest selling issue in British Vogue’s 104-year history and defined the news agenda for days.
On Saturday evening, the world’s leading climate change and social justice activists will gather to look at feminist solutions to climate change. The panel includes previously announced first female President of Ireland and former UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Mary Robinson, alongside Chair of the International Indigenous Peoples Forum on Climate Change Hindou Ibrahim, poet, disability and climate change activist and author Khairani Barokka, and journalist Pat Mitchell.
Joining the previously announced host Deborah Frances-White at Saturday night’s The Guilty Feminist Live at WOW is co-host Susie Wokoma, comedian Bridget Christie, Fleabag actor Sian Clifford, and music by Joy Crookes.
On the festival’s final day on Sunday, Afua Hirsch, Margaret Busby, Phyll Opoku-Gyimah, Liv Little, Kelechi Okafor, Victoria Adukwei-Bulley, Diana Evans and, Jade Anouka come together for an afternoon of celebration of Toni Morrison’s work, featuring readings and exclusive excerpts from The Bluest Eye and the newly released documentary Toni Morrison: The Pieces I Am.
On Sunday afternoon evening, Sandi Toksvig meets her personal and professional heroes to discover how they got to where they are today in How the Hell Did I Get Here? She will interview women who have triumphantly defeated the odds to climb to the very top including Lennie Goodings, Pat Mitchell and Dr. Maggie Aderin-Pocock MBE.
The festival’s finale events will be a special International Women’s Day edition of Letters Live at WOW and The Beauty Myth: 30 Years On, exploring what has and hasn’t changed since the legendary book’s publication three decades ago. Joining its author Naomi Wolf, is multi-award nominated plus size fashion blogger Stephanie Yeboah; Levi Hord, a scholar and activist who uses trans* and queer frameworks to speak about the changing meanings of gender identity; and make-up artist Kay Montana. The event will be chaired by novelist Kate Mosse.
Over the three days, the festival will also include previously announced appearances from Shazia Mirza, Elif Shafak, Caroline Criado Perez and Bobby Baker.
Joining the Day Pass programme includes Dina Asher-Smith, the fastest British woman in history who will talk to Founder Jude Kelly in the Royal Festival Hall to close the first day of the Festival about what drives her, her role models, and the tools she’s used at the turning points in her life.
Other recently announced guests include: Munroe Bergdorf, who joins the Queer Intentions panel; Grace Murray on intersex role models; journalist and author of Equal, Carrie Grace in conversation with WEP founder Catherine Mayer about women being forced out of the workplace; Funny Women, the UK’s leading female comedy community, presenting a line up of comedy talent; Ayan Mahamoud, Former Somaliland Representative to the UK and Founder of Hargeysa Book Festival on accidental activism, Ndidi Okezie, CEO of UK Youth, Janice Charette, Canada’s High Commissioner to the UK; Cassandra Stavrou, Co-founder of Propercorn talk with Radio 4’s Mishal Husain on Women and Leadership; and campaigner Gina Martin, who join leader of the Women’s Equality Party Mandu Reid in the Saturday Day Pass closing session.
Attendees for the sold out Day Pass programme on Saturday and Sunday will be able to choose from talks, workshops and performances including: a session from The New York Times about its photo project #ThisIs18; Jess Phillips in Conversation on her book Truth to Power; a masterclass in voguing, a global mix of comedians presented by Funny Women; an exploration of iconic dolls gender stereotyping in Life in Plastic, is it Fantastic?; Women’s Parliament where MPs and Westminster regulars look at what such a thing would really mean; activist Valentino Vecchietti and special guests will explore what it means to be intersex; Women of Colour and Mental Health presents an exploration of the barriers women of colour face that mean they are affected disproportionately by mental health issues; Travelling with Tits, a hilarious meditation on the highs and lows or travelling alone as a woman; Where has trans activism got to? a look at the joy and challenges of the trans activist movement so far; Where’s My Vagina with Jenny Sealey OBE; a discussion on bringing up boys; The Successes of the Lionesses – and what that means for everyone else in and outside of sport; Desi – Out and Proud; How to be a Difficult Woman with journalist Helen Lewis; a look at everything from feminist pensions to how you can increase your financial health in Your Money or Your Life: Personal Finance; anti-racism educator and Instagram sensation Layla Saad challenges understandings of white supremacy and privilege in Me and White Supremacy; and Corporates get Naked – a frank discussion about diversity and discuss why improvements must be made.
There will also be two award ceremonies: Women on the Move Awards 2020: The Greatest Hits presented by Samira Ahmed, which celebrates inspirational leadership from migrant and refugee women and will this year bring together previous winners to celebrate 10 years of WOMA including Mariam Yusuf, Joon Lynn Goh and Rossana Leal; and With and For Girls Awards with WOW, which will bring together 25 girl-led and girl-centered groups from across the globe to celebrate their trailblazing achievements.
This year the festival has partnered with Sea Containers London as its official hotel partner. The Southbank design hotel will be joining WOW’s 10th anniversary celebrations with a series of events, including lighting up the hotel red over the three days. The hotel will also be offering ticket holders 10% off their total bill at Sea Containers Restaurant and offering customers in its rooftop bar 12th Knot a WOW cocktail. On Sunday, the hotel’s critically-acclaimed bar Lyaness will be hosting a special all-female edition of Sunday Lyan to celebrate International Women’s Day.
2020 marks the 10th anniversary of WOW – Women of the World Festival and to celebrate The WOW Foundation is presenting the biggest and bravest festival yet. This year’s festival will take place over the Southbank Centre site and see the return of WOW Speed Mentoring, WOW Bites and the WOW Market. Over the past 10 years WOW Festivals have reached more than two million people across six continents, from Baltimore to Brazil, Cardiff to Karachi.
In 2018, Jude Kelly founded The WOW Foundation to run the global movement as an independent charitable organisation. The WOW Foundation produces festivals across the world to celebrate women and girls, and raise awareness globally of the issues they face and possible solutions. Led by Kelly, the organisation works to build, convene and sustain a global movement that believes a gender equal world is possible and desirable through WOW festivals and empowering women and girls.
WOW festivals are presented by arrangement with Southbank Centre.
Detailed programme information and tickets can be found here.
WOW’s 10th anniversary festival is supported by The WOW Foundation’s Global Founding Partner Bloomberg.
WOW London 2020 takes place from Friday 6 to Sunday 8 March.
Photo credit: Belinda Lawley