#WeCheckIn: WOW – Women of the World Festival – The festival celebrating women and girls, performers, activists and voices

WOW – Women of the World Festival is set to take place this week (Friday 6th – Sunday 8th March) at Southbank Centre for the 10th year in a row. The festival celebrating women and girls takes  place across the International Women’s Day weekend with a line-up of over 25 ticketed events featuring some of the world’s most exciting performers, activists and voices.

The festival also includes a packed sold out Day Pass programme on Friday and Saturday featuring dozens of panel discussions, workshops and performances.
The WOW Foundation’s President, HRH The Duchess of Cornwall, will open the festival on Friday morning with a speech about domestic abuse; joining Businesswoman and Campaigner Gina Miller; Survivor, SafeLives Pioneer, domestic abuse and youth violence consultant Naomi Donald;  artist, activist and SafeLives Pioneer Celia Peachey; and SafeLives CEO Suzanne Jacob.

In an evening of fun, frank and honest conversation, Scarlett Curtis and special guests from the new film Misbehavior discuss making the film and what feminism means to them in this special live recording of Scarlett’s hit podcast, Feminists Don’t Wear Pink, on Friday. Scarlett will bejoined by the real-life Miss World 1970, Jennifer Hosten; the director of the film, Phillipa Lowthorpe; and the writer of the screenplay, Rebecca Frayn Joining the panel to continue discussions about the film industry is leading Intimacy Coordinator and Movement Director Ita O’Brien, who led a successful campaign to publish industry guidelines for scenes involving sex or nudity.

With reports of hate crimes increasing, and some people feeling more ostracised since the UK’s historical referendum, on Friday evening WOW will examine exactly what it means to be British today in Britishness and Power. The panel will comprise Reni Eddo-Lodge, Sumaya Kassim, Dr Nadine El-Enany, Kieran Yates and Chair Fatima Manji. This powerful event will examine what impact the changing political landscape has on the identities of British women, and
ask who the keepers of British values are.


Salma Hayek, Fatima Bhutto, Adwoa Aboah, Christiane Amanpour, Sarah Harris,
Julia Gillard and Paris Lees all join the panel for British Vogue’s Forces for Change hosted by British Vogue on Saturday evening. Editor in Chief Edward Enninful has invited artists, activists, fashion pioneers and friends to join him for an evening of intimate conversation exploring the key topics that came out of British Vogue’s September Issue guest edited by Meghan, Duchess of Sussex.

The Sell-Out September Issue, Forces For Change was the fastest selling issue in British Vogue’s 104-year history and defined the news agenda for days. On Saturday evening, the world’s leading climate change and social justice activists will gather to look at feminist solutions to climate change. The panel includes previously announced first female President of Ireland and former UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Mary Robinson, alongside Chair of the International Indigenous Peoples Forum on Climate Change Hindou Ibrahim, poet, disability and climate change activist and author Khairani Barokka, and journalist Pat Mitchell.

Joining the previously announced host Deborah Frances-White at Saturday night’s The Guilty Feminist Live at WOW is co-host Susie Wokoma, comedian Bridget Christie, Fleabag actor Sian Clifford, and music by Joy Crookes.

On the festival’s final day on Sunday, Afua Hirsch, Margaret Busby, Phyll Opoku-Gyimah, Liv Little, Kelechi Okafor, Victoria Adukwei-Bulley, Diana Evans and, Jade Anouka come together for an afternoon of celebration of Toni Morrison’s work, featuring readings and exclusive excerpts from The Bluest Eye and the newly released documentary Toni Morrison: The Pieces I Am.

On Sunday afternoon evening, Sandi Toksvig meets her personal and professional heroes to discover how they got to where they are today in How the Hell Did I Get Here? She will interview women who have triumphantly defeated the odds to climb to the very top including Lennie Goodings, Pat Mitchell and Dr. Maggie Aderin-Pocock MBE.

The festival’s finale events will be a special International Women’s Day edition of Letters Live at WOW and The Beauty Myth: 30 Years On, exploring what has and hasn’t changed since the legendary book’s publication three decades ago. Joining its author Naomi Wolf, is multi-award nominated plus size fashion blogger Stephanie Yeboah; Levi Hord, a scholar and activist who uses trans* and queer frameworks to speak about the changing meanings of gender identity; and make-up artist Kay Montana. The event will be chaired by novelist Kate Mosse.

Over the three days, the festival will also include previously announced appearances from Shazia Mirza, Elif Shafak, Caroline Criado Perez and Bobby Baker. Joining the Day Pass programme includes Dina Asher-Smith, the fastest British woman in history who will talk to Founder Jude Kelly in the Royal Festival Hall to close the first day of the Festival about what drives her, her role models, and the tools she’s used at the turning points in her life.


This year’s festival will take place over the Southbank Centre site and see the return of WOW Speed Mentoring, WOW Bites and the WOW Market. Over the past 10 years WOW Festivals have reached more than two million people across six continents, from Baltimore to Brazil, Cardiff to Karachi. In 2018, Jude Kelly founded The WOW Foundation to run the global movement as an independent charitable organisation. The WOW Foundation produces festivals across the world to celebrate women and girls, and raise awareness globally of the issues they face and possible solutions. Led by Kelly, the organisation works to build, convene and sustain a global movement that believes a gender equal world is possible and desirable through WOW festivals and empowering women and girls. WOW festivals are presented by arrangement with Southbank Centre. Detailed programme information and tickets can be found here. WOW’s 10th anniversary festival is supported by The WOW Foundation’s Global Founding Partner Bloomberg.