News: WOW Foundation announces first ever global festival

The WOW Foundation announces the first ever worldwide online festival focused on women and girls, WOW Global 24, in response to the separation, deprivation and inequalities brought about and exacerbated by Covid-19. Black Lives Matter has increased WOW’s sense of urgency. Running across all time zones over 24 hours, the festival, produced by UK based charity The WOW Foundation, will be curated by teams from all over the world including the USA, Pakistan, Turkey, Jordan, Nigeria, the UK, Brazil, Australia and India, exploring both localised and international issues on two live stream channels. WOW Global 24 will be available to watch from 27 to 28 June for free live via thewowfoundation.com.

As WOW Festivals mark their 10th anniversary, the coronavirus pandemic is having a devastating impact on women and girls across the globe. The effects of Covid-19 pose a profound risk of reversing progress made towards achieving equality, one that must be tackled together and fast. WOW Global 24 will hear from activists, thinkers, artists, educators and more about how we can change thought into action with the overarching theme of “Women and Girls in a Time of Crisis”. WOW will respond to the world’s current events, including racial injustice, and the disproportionate impact the pandemic is having on women and girls, particularly those already marginalised. Over the 24 hours, audiences will hear from women, girls and people of all genders who are working towards a better, post pandemic world.

The focus of the festival will move as the world turns. Viewers can tune into one of two channels – The Global Channel and The Local Channel – streaming live and simultaneously over the 24 hours. The programme is designed so that when viewers are watching during daylight hours, events will be generated from the audience’s own part of the world.

The Global Channel will concentrate on six themes: EDUCATION, JUSTICE, CLIMATE, HEALTH, THE ECONOMY and VIOLENCE. The localised specifics of these themes will be explored by different global leaders, community activists and young women in each territory. There will also be music performances from female artists from around the world. The Global Channel will be programmed in partnership with: Connected Women Leaders; Theirworld; Care International; UN Women and RAW in WAR (Reach All Women in War).

The Local Channel will feature contributions from places already part of the WOW movement – Pakistan, Bangladesh, Nepal, Sri Lanka, India, the Middle East, Turkey, UK, Nigeria, Brazil, USA, and Australia and the Pacific. There will be conversation, performances, workshops, music and more, all delivered in local languages. Each event will bring stories of resilience, leadership and examples of ‘building back better’.

The Local Channel will be curated by WOW partners including British Council (South Asia and Turkey), Across Red Lines (the Middle East), Ake Arts and Book Festival (Nigeria), WOW Bradford (UK), Redes De Mares (Brazil) and WOW Australia / Of One Mind (Australia and the Pacific).

Over the course of the festival, WOW Global 24 will build up a worldwide picture of the current situation for girls and women, and the events and ideas that are creating positive or adverse impacts.

WOW Founder Jude Kelly said: “Now more than ever, we need to find community; to connect women, civil society and governments and make women’s stories central to future planning across the globe. This is an opportunity to join hands, listen and ask ‘what do we need to change, and how’?

“Like many others, The WOW Foundation has had to go from live events to full online broadcasting in a matter of weeks, adapting to the technical challenge of lockdown. It is important that we utilise digital resources to connect women and girls in a time where existing issues of gender inequalities are exposed and exacerbated by the Covid-19 crisis.”

Former Australian Prime Minister Julia Gillard said: “The Covid-19 crisis is driving profound change. Will its last impact be to further entrench underlying inequalities for women and girls? Or can we build a new normal of greater gender equity? Answering these big questions is urgent and that’s why WOW Global 24 is so important: this is the right time to bring together contributors from all over the world to analyse and respond to this crisis, and ensure there are strategies to improve the immediate and long-lasting impact of Covid-19 on women and girls. I am pleased Australia is one of the programming locations for the festival, and look forward to working with everyone involved towards a fairer post-pandemic world.”

WOW Global 24 will be proudly supported by The WOW Foundation’s Global Founding Partner, Bloomberg, and Moody’s.

The WOW Foundation is unique in its convening ability, bringing thousands of voices from the margins through Festivals and Think Ins and placing them alongside those with power and visibility in order to build understanding of the complex ways in which inequality impacts on all aspects of public, political, community and private life.

Over the past 10 years, WOW Festivals have reached more than two million people across six continents, from Baltimore to Brazil, Cardiff to Karachi.

The WOW Foundation is proudly supported by its Global Founding Partner, Bloomberg, and Global Partner MasterCard.

WOW – Women of the World Festival’s Global 24 runs 27th and 28th June.

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