WOW LONDON 2019 Programme Announced
The WOW Foundation has today announced plans for London 2019, in the build up to further activity across the UK and the rest of the world over the next two years. The London events, taking place 8-9 March, over International Women's Day, include talks with legendary activist and writer Angela Davis, award-winning journalist and author Naomi Klein as well as the launch of major new international anthology New Daughters of Africa edited by Margaret Busby. The programme also features events with Jo Brand and Catherine Mayer, and two global conversations WOW presents: What Now? and WOW presents: What Next? bringing together thousands of women from across all industries and communities to imagine and debate the future of gender equality. Tickets are on sale to Southbank Centre Members from today and to the public tomorrow, 6 December. There will be over 500 tickets available to schools.
The announcement marks the beginning of WOW's next chapter as an independent organisation and an international movement. Founded and led by Jude Kelly, former Artistic Director at Southbank Centre, The WOW Foundation will work to build and sustain a movement that believes a gender equal world is possible and desirable through Festivals, and events that empower women and girls. Kelly left the Southbank Centre to lead the WOW movement, having overseen its rapid growth over the last decade and recognising its potential power to drive global change in attitudes towards gender. WOW 2019 will comprise a series of eight major events, calling upon the WOW community to take stock of where equality is now and what is next, ahead of their 10-year anniversary in 2020. The WOW London events are designed to inspire, reflect and provoke and will subsequently be rolled out in discussion format across the length of the UK in 2019. Through the programme they will investigate what the next decade of WOW needs to look like if we are to achieve the 2030 UN sustainable goal around equality.
WOW Founder Jude Kelly said: "A seismic change in global women's affairs is coming about and we feel that everyone needs to be part of building a new gender equal world. In pursuit of this the WOW movement, now a charitable foundation, is accelerating across the world - with 2 million people involved in festivals in 30 countries across 5 continents - more and more people want to celebrate the lives and achievements of women and urge gender justice forward. The WOW Festivals, Think Ins, Wowser Girls Clubs and our growing International Leaders Forum have established WOW as the most significant convener of women across the globe."
Over the last 9 years the Festivals have developed a reputation as a space where world renowned artists, performers, and political and social activists such as Malala Yousafzai, Leymah Gbowee, Lupita Nyong'o, Annie Lennox, Patrick Stewart, Baroness Doreen Lawrence and Salma Hayek come and participate, alongside thousands of people of all genders to celebrate achievements and discuss solutions together. The unique Festival model creates ways for participants and campaigners, women and men, to take part in WOW, to amplify their own causes, or start new initiatives which have a wide impact on communities. It has resulted in hundreds of gender equality initiatives over the past decade, for example: the Women's Equality Party was founded at the Festival by Sandi Toksvig and Catherine Mayer; Nimco Ali's campaign to raise awareness around Female Genital Mutilation first found significant platform at the festival and the formation of Girls Rock London, running rock camps for girls and women in London.
To date, WOW has reached over 2 million people in 17 countries on 5 continents across more than 60 festivals including in Australia, Brazil, China, Egypt, Finland, Nepal, Nigeria, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, Somaliland, the USA and across the UK. Next, WOW will be in Karachi, Dhaka, New York, Beijing and Atlanta, as well as Istanbul, Baltimore and Shanghai in 2020. It is the biggest, most comprehensive and most significant festival dedicated to connecting the stories of women and girls to active change making globally.
During the day on Friday 8 March and Saturday 9 March 2019 WOW will present What Now? and What Next?, led by Kelly. The events will look at the current state of the nation for women and girls, and then ask what the future looks like. In WOW presents: What Now? inspirational speakers, performers and thinkers will look at the ideas that matter to women and girls (cisgender, transgender and gender non-binary) and the men and boys who support them, from the toughest realities, to the greatest triumphs, in a world that is changing very quickly through politics, technology and cultural norms. It will look at everything from violence and money to wellbeing, to what it means to live with sexism and racism, disability, homophobia and transphobia. Kelly and guests will look at what women all over the world, from Cardiff to Karachi, Bradford to Baltimore and Australia to the Americas care about most, right now. WOW presents: What Next? asks what the future looks like in an age of hyper connectivity, extreme ideas and political turmoil. Across the afternoon audiences will hear from the women helping to imagine - and create - an equal world.
On Friday evening, activist Angela Davis will be in conversation with Kelly following her legendary sold out in conversation at WOW London in 2017 on women, race and class in the post-Trump era. Also on Friday, WOW will present the Women on the Move Awards 2019 celebrating leadership from migrant and refugee women in partnership with UNHCR, the UN Refugee Agency and Migrants Organise Ltd. Jo Brand, one of the UK's best loved comedians, joins Friday's lineup with Born Lippy: How To Do Female, challenging stereotypes, unpacking what it means to be female and refusing to remain silent.
On Saturday evening, in her first major engagement since being appointed the inaugural Gloria Steinem Endowed Chair in Media, Culture and Feminist Studies at Rutgers University-New Brunswick, journalist, activist and author Naomi Klein will be in conversation with Kelly, taking a close look at the political and media landscape at this critical time for women, human rights, economic justice and climate change. Also on the Saturday, WOW will launch New Daughters of Africa, edited by Margaret Busby. Twenty-five years ago, the collection Daughters of Africa was published to international acclaim. The new work builds on this tradition for a new generation of women writers and the landscape of African women's writing today. A portrayal of the accomplishments of over 200 contributors, it celebrates their global sweep, diversity and achievements while also testifying to a wealth of genres. To launch this new publication, WOW will bring together leading contributors to honour a unifying heritage and range of creativity of women from the African diaspora. Also on Saturday evening, Women's Equality Party co-founder and writer Catherine Mayer examines how debates have become so damagingly polarised in a funny, freewheeling show on soundbite culture Catherine Mayer: FFS.
WOW London takes place by arrangement with Southbank Centre.