The third iteration of Women of the World - WOW Madhesh festival was held on 6 and 7 December 2019 in the ancient city of Janakpur. The edition focused on the Madhesh belt of Nepal which is ripe with gender equality-related issues and development work.

WOW is a festival built on exploring, engaging in and promoting gender equality across the world. Through talks, workshops, performances, mentorship programs and more, women share stories of change, with the shared goal of intersectional gender equality. This festival which began in London in 2011 has expanded to a global movement of over 20 cities, bringing together women and men, from all backgrounds, to engage in important dialogue and take an honest look on the current issues of gender equality.

The activities that took place during the WOW Madhesh were:

Bites

The Bites section of the festival was a collection of short story sharing sessions. In this edition of WOW Madhesh, the stories about different experiences of women: from being a wheelchair dancer to the journey from slavery to being a provincial deputy speaker were shared. A range of stories from different women: a transdancer, a nurse from the Musahar community, women stigmatized as Boksis, a young rock climber, young women fighting child marriage were shared. The bites section was curated with a focus on different forms and types of violence inflicted upon women by the state, society and culture, and how women are fighting it creatively and bravely.

Workshops

The Workshop section of this festival was a curated collection of classes, discussions and activities with the goal of group learning. For WOW Madhesh, the workshops were all focused on the issues from the Madhesh. Some examples of our workshops included a discussion on rethinking reproductive and menstrual health, a self-defence class for women and girls, teacher's workshops on art education, Maithili mural painting workshop and more. Workshops were interactive and participant-based. The workshops took the form of educational training, where the exchange of knowledge and skills happened between both the facilitator and participants. 

Marketplace

The Marketplace was the meeting spot for businesses, organisations and other services provided by women and/or for women. The WOW Madhesh marketplace showcased a variety of stalls from local businesses to community service organisations. Some examples included JWDC, IPSSJ, StoryCycle, VSO, WomenLEAD and more.

Speed Mentoring

Speed Mentoring was a form of mentorship from leading, professional women for young mentees. Our group of experienced volunteers, all from different backgrounds provided valuable expertise and knowledge to young girls. The women leaders had 15 minutes with mentees to talk about anything; career development, dealing with societal pressures, or anything else they needed advice with.  

Performances

The performance section of the WOW festival was a collection of activities that happened throughout the day; from music to theatre to other forms of art, performed mainly by women. The performances were curated by Sareena Rai and were authentic to the site of our festival, Janakpur. The performances included a showcase of the local jhijhiya dance, theatre performances, concerts and many more; each inspired by the stories and the art of women from the Tarai.

Event schedule/map available in the downloads section below.