WOW — Women of the World — is a global movement that champions gender equality, celebrating the achievements of women and girls everywhere examining the obstacles that keep them from fulfilling their potential. Festivals take place year-round across around the world and were first held in Kathmandu in 2017 at the Nepal Administrative Staff College, Lalitpur, and was convened by Jude Kelly, founder of WOW in partnership with the British Council. Since then WOW in Nepal has been organised in Kathmandu in 2018, in Janakpur in 2019 and virtual iterations have been organised in 2020 and 2021. This year, we are travelling to Lumbini province for the 5th edition of WOW which will see a one-day physical festival and a 10-day-long digital campaign starting from the International Women’s Day on 8 March.
WOW uses the power of stories, narratives and the arts to create engagement on the themes of gender equality. WOW Festival format is consistent across all global chapters, they contain the following strands:
||Soap-box moment where women/girls/men share their personal stories to connect with others working towards a more egalitarian world
||Educational training intended to provide knowledge and skill exchange between facilitating expert and attending participants
|| Panels are moderated on a particular theme/issue of Gender Equality
||Women leaders mentor young women/girls for 15 minutes, four mentees in an hour.
||The marketplace brings together products, ideas, initiatives and other goods/services by women for women.
| Pop-up Performances
||A range of activities happening throughout the event day(s) in-between stage programmes and on open grounds
What is WOW?
WOW is a festival that celebrates women and girls and takes a frank look at the obstacles they face across the world. There are talks, performances, activism, workshops, food, music, mentoring, workshops and more. WOW is for everyone, and brings people together from all corners of society - both speakers and audience members - energising and providing the inspiration and tools to make the change. WOW is a place where hundreds of women’s stories can be shared, feelings vented and minds influenced. Each WOW is for everyone, bold and broad-based in approach, both lively and serious, bringing together people from all corners of the society.
WOW launched in 2011 at London’s Southbank Centre and was founded by Jude Kelly CBE. Past speakers in London have included: Malala Yousafzai, Annie Lennox, Patrick Stewart, Julie Walters, Shami Chakrabarti, Salma Hayek, Alice Walker, Caitlin Moran, Vivienne Westwood, Grayson Perry, Leymah Gbowee, and Christine Lagarde.
The WOW movement is growing, and is now in over 20 cities across 5 continents including Karachi in Pakistan, Bangladesh, Finland, New York and Baltimore in the USA, across the UK and Australia and in Hargeysa, Somaliland. Around the world, individuals and communities, including an increasing number of men, are insisting on the simple proposition that women must have equal rights and asking 'why is gender equality taking so long?' The global WOW movement is growing at a time when female voices have become immensely powerful as a force for positive change.
Southbank Centre is a world-famous arts centre on the South Bank of the Thames. Created in 1951 for the Festival of Britain, Southbank Centre draws on its heritage as a festival site, with art and activities inside and outside. Southbank Centre encourages everyone to become involved in the arts in new and creative ways and passionately believes the arts have the power to transform lives.