The WOW Foundation has announced the line up for the first ever worldwide online festival focused on women and girls, WOW Global 24, taking place this weekend. The festival, planned in response to the separation, deprivation and inequalities brought about and exacerbated by Covid-19 will run over 24 hours and be curated by teams from all over the world including the USA, Pakistan, Turkey, Nepal, Sri Lanka, Jordan, Nigeria, the UK, Brazil, Australia, Malaysia and India. The festival will include WOW Founder Jude Kelly in conversation with Former Australian Prime Minister Julia Gillard; former President of Ireland Mary Robinson; Indian disability and gender rights activist Nidhi Goyal; and Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka, United Nations Under-Secretary-General and Executive Director of UN Women.
Angela Davis will return to WOW for an interview with Jude Kelly. The legendary activist, writer and academic will be speaking live at the festival to discuss some of the key themes from the Black Lives Matter movement to the potential ramifications the pandemic poses to the fight for gender inequality.
Just some of the huge variety of speakers, activists and global experts across the 24 hours include Nobel Prize winner Svetlana Alexievich; Hood Feminism author Mikki Kendall; American advocate for the abolition of the death penalty Sister Helen Prejean, whose work has been dramatised by Susan Sarandon in the the film Dead Man Walking; singer and activist Annie Lennox; Executive Director of Hawaii’s Commission on the Status of Women Khara Jabola-Carolus; Nigerian Finance Minister Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala; feminist and girls’ education activist Chernor Bah; and architects of the Paris Agreement: Costa-Rican diplomat and Executive Secretary of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change Christiana Figueres.
Sir Patrick Stewart, and HRH The Duchess of Cornwall, President of The WOW Foundation with Suzanne Jacob, CEO SafeLives, and campaigner Gina Miller, will talk about domestic abuse.
There will be readings from actors including Gillian Anderson and Thandie Newton, and music from artists including Shingai, Les Amazones d’Afrique; Emel Mathlouthi, Helen Epega (The Venus Bushfires) and Muthoni Drummer Queen. Many more details of the vast and varied line up are below, with more to be announced this week.
Speakers opening, closing and speaking across the themes include Senator Sherry Rehman, Parliamentary Leader of the Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) in Senate; geographer and author of The Women’s Atlas Joni Seager; and founder of multi-award winning blog MsAfropolitan, Nigerian, Finnish and Swedish writer and lecturer, Minna Salami.
Created by UK based charity The WOW Foundation, WOW Global 24 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. Black Lives Matter has increased WOW’s sense of urgency. 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, programming for which is announced today, will concentrate on six themes: EDUCATION, JUSTICE, CLIMATE, HEALTH, THE ECONOMY and VIOLENCE. After each discussion there will be a musical performance from a female artist in WOW Sounds, and a selection of WOW Big Ideas from organisations including With and For Girls, The Female Lead and Common Purpose.
Speakers discussing violence include: activist and author of Amazons, Abolitionists and Activists and Hood Feminism Mikki Kendall; Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka, United Nations Under-Secretary-General and Executive Director of UN Women; politician and former political adviser to the home secretary of Iceland Halla Gunnarsdóttir; survivor and social change agent, head cook and owner of iconic Melbourne institution Moroccan Soup Bar Hana Assafiri; first Sri Lankan to scale Mount Everest, adventurer, and LGBT and women’s rights activist Jayanthi Kuru-Utumpala; Chinese campaigner Maizi Li; Noelene Nabulivou, Fijian activist and co-founder of Diverse Voices and Action for Equality (DIVA), an organisation focusing on climate justice, violence against women, human rights and LGBTQ rights; journalist and Bernie Grant Arts Centre Artistic Director and CEO Hannah Azieb Pool; Country director of CARE Ecuador Alexandra Moncada; and the Director for Humanitarian Programmes and Accountability for the Disasters Emergency Committee, Madara Hettiarachchi.
Justice around the world will be examined by Kenya based novelist Zukiswa Wanner; American entrepreneur India Gary-Martin; Sky News special Correspondent in South Africa Alex Crawford, Belarusian investigative journalist and Nobel Prize winner Svetlana Alexievitch; Colombian journalist Jineth Bodeya Lima who was abducted in the course of her work and awarded the Courage In Journalism Award of the International Women’s Media Foundation; Roman Catholic sister in New Orleans, and a leading American advocate for the abolition of the death penalty Sister Helen Prejean – who many will recognise from Susan Sarandon’s portrayal in the blockbuster film Dead Man Walking; Malaysian activist and Musawah Executive Director Zainah Anwar; and Reach All Women in War (Raw in War) Founder Mariana Katzarova.
The education speakers will be made up of International Development expert and Former Nigerian Minister of Finance Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala; Sarah Brown, campaigner for global health and education, founder and president of the children’s charity Theirworld; Director of Education Cannot Wait (ECW), a global fund for education in emergencies and protracted crisis Yasmine Sherif; Jamira Burley, Head of Youth Engagement and Skills at Theirworld and the Global Business Coalition for education; feminist and girls’ education activist Chernor Bah; Australian writer and lecturer Jane Caro; Leading sociologist and Japan’s ‘best known feminist’ Chizuko Ueno; Vanessa Heleta, women and girl’s rights activist from Tonga; Carolyn Evans, Vice Chancellor and President of Griffith University, Australia; Mulberry School for Girls pupils from Tower Hamlets, London; and Mandu Reid, Leader of the Women’s Equality Party.
Looking at Climate Change will be: Founder and Partner of Connected Women Leaders Initiative Pat Mitchell; architects of the Paris Agreement, Costa-Rican diplomat and Executive Secretary of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change Christiana Figueres; Former President of Ireland Mary Robinson; and Sudanese writer, women’s rights activist and socialist leader Fatima Ibrahim. These sessions have been curated by Connected Women Leaders.
On the theme of health, speakers include Prof. Agnes Binagwaho, Vice Chancellor of the University of Global Health Equity, Kigali, Rwanda; Dr Devi Sridhar, Professor and Chair of Global Public Health at the University of Edinburgh; and Tanzila Khan, advocate for sustainable solutions for young people for their reproductive health and founder of Girlythings.pk, delivering menstrual kits to girls across Pakistan. The sessions will also feature Ilda Kuleba, Country Director of Mothers2Mothers, Mozambique, Colile Mashaba, a Mentor Mother in Mpumalanga, South Africa and Reproductive specialist; Devita Davison, Executive Director of FoodLab Detroit; and co-chair of the Young Medical Women International Association, Dr Sonia Adesara.
The Economy will feature Sam Smethers CEO of the Fawcett Society; Khara Jabola-Carolus, Executive Director of Hawaii’s Commission on the Status of Women and lead on Hawaii’s recently published feminist economic recovery plan in response to COVID-19; and entrepreneur and Everledger CEO Leanne Kemp.
UN Women will bring together a discussion on gender equality in the times of COVID-19 and ask: why does it matter? With speakers Shantel Marekera, Country Director for Zimbabwe for the Global Peace Chain; activist, advocate, educator, and multi-disciplinary Jamie Ahksistowaki Medicine Crane, a Blackfoot woman from the Kainai and Piikani in Southern Alberta; Joanna Wetherborn, Creole journalist and communications specialist from Guatemala; and Lopa Banerjee, Director of Civil Society Division and Executive Coordinator of Generation Equality Forum at UN Women.
WOW Sounds features exclusive performances by revolutionary female musicians. The programme includes a mix of award winning artists including the platinum-selling front woman and bassist from Noisettes Shingai; the first all-girl Roma band Pretty Loud; West African supergroup Les Amazones d’Afrique; Tunisian singer-songwriter Emel Mathlouthi, whose protest song “Kelmti Horra” became the anthem during the 2011 Tunisian Revolution and Arab Spring; the “Diva of the Sudanese Desert” Amira Khan; the first ever woman to win a film score award in Sri Lanka Gayathri Khemadasa; Syrian oudist Rihab Azar who was the first woman oudist to perform accompanied by the Syrian National Orchestra for Arabic Music; Nigerian-British singer-songwriter Helen Epega (The Venus Bushfires) who wrote and composed the world’s first pidgin opera; Manchester based Sufi singer and songwriter Sarah Yaseen; the Zimbabwean ‘Princess of Mbira’ Hope Masike; Indian singer Anandi Bhattacharya who will be accompanied by her father Pandit Debashish Bhattacharya, the world famous slide guitar maestro. Originally hailing from Muhoroni township in Kenya WOW will welcome hip hop artist MC Sharon; one of Iran’s great voices Mahsa Vahdat; guitarist and singer song-writer Rasha Nahas, whose sound was shaped in the Palestinian underground scene; Indian poet, singer-songwriter and urban ecologist Ditty; cultural leader and emerging Afro-Australian icon Kween G; Irish eclectic singer-songwriter Fehdah who describes her sound as “Sahelian-Electrosoul”; Kenyan musical and cultural firebrand Muthoni Drummer Queen; South African Nu-Jazz singer Nono Nkoane; Guatamalean rapper Rebeca Lane who makes socially conscious hip hop; all girl Sri Lankan acoustic band The Singing Potatoes; First Nation (Warnindilyakwa) singer-songwriter and activist Emily Wurramara originally from Groote Eylandt, Northern Territory, Australia; First Nation (Maori) singer-songwriter, multi-instrumentalist, Queen of Loops and activist for Aotearoa (New Zealand), Māmā Mihirangi First Nation (Worimi), British, Punjabi, Swiss singer-songwriter from Australia Lydia Fairhall; and internationally acclaimed Zheng (Chinese long zither) player Mei Han.
Every WOW Festival around the globe has a WOW Marketplace, supporting and providing a platform for women-led businesses. For WOW Global 24 the Marketplace will go online for the first time (thewowfoundation.com) curated by Janet’s List – a platform that helps buyers discover independent brands by Black women and women of colour from the UK. It will showcase the extraordinary entrepreneurial work of up and coming Black and women of colour led initiatives and collectives and provide a platform for social enterprises, collectives and organisations focusing on the six WOW Global 24 themes. The Marketplace will be global with Local Channel partners nominating women-led businesses from their region to feature.
The Festival’s second 24 hour channel, 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, the African Continent, Brazil, USA, and Australia and the Pacific. There will be conversation, performances, workshops and music, all delivered in local languages. 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 (the African Continent), WOW Bradford (UK), Redes da Maré (Brazil), WOW USA,WOW Australia / Of One Mind (Australia and the Pacific), Jagriti – Women Center of Excellence (India) and WOW Malaysia.
The Global Channel will be BSL interpreted by Performance Interpreting, with live captioning by My Clear Text and Stagetext.
WOW Global 24 will be proudly supported by The WOW Foundation’s Global Founding Partner, Bloomberg, and Moody’s. Further support from WOW’s Hour Partners.
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 Global 24 streams from 10.30am on Saturday 27 June to Sunday 28 June.