Today, International Women’s Day, sees a unifying call for women across the globe to join together to address the critical issues and challenges faced by women the world over.

For the first time, Southbank Centre’s WOW – Women of the World festival links up women and girls across the UK and internationally with WOW London (7-12 March), the first WOW Hull (10-12 March) and the first WOW Finland (10-12 March), alongside a reception at Buckingham Palace hosted by WOW President The Duchess of Cornwall, who has supported the festival since its launch in 2010.

Global movement WOW – Women of the World unites thousands of women and girls of all ages with artists, scientists, sportswomen, politicians, business leaders, activists, community leaders and refugees from all corners of the globe to share and explore experiences, achievements, fears and opportunities for the future, and create innovative solutions to life’s challenges. International WOW festivals now reach nearly two million people in twenty cities across five continents, and are growing year on year.

Southbank Centre’s WOW – Women of the World London festival, supported by Bloomberg, returns for its seventh year (7-12 March) with a call to action for women and girls to identify their one solution to making the world a fairer place for women and girls. An emphasis on activism throughout the festival includes a Young Women’s rally hosted by broadcaster and author Gemma Cairney and featuring speakers including leading activist Amal Azzudin on Saturday 11 March, and an interactive ‘Action Station’ where public can make their pledge for women and girls.

This year:
WOW President, The Duchess of Cornwall, hosts a reception at Buckingham Palace where details are announced for the first three-day WOW festival celebrating women across the Commonwealth, to coincide with the Gold Coast 2018 Commonwealth Games as part of the broader GC2018 arts and cultural program.
First WOW Hull launches on Friday 10 March as part of Hull UK City of Culture 2017
First WOW Finland launches on Friday 10 March at Tampere Hall
International Women’s Day at WOW London focuses on education and sees 300 secondary school girls consider what makes them unique in a day of talks, workshops and performances exploring the theme “I Am Perfect as Me” as well as how to present their identity online safely.

Southbank Centre Artistic Director and WOW founder Jude Kelly CBE said: “WOW is a unique global movement at a time of ferocious change. Women's stories of triumph, tragedy, progress or setback are a crucial source of knowledge and by connecting women’s voices, from Kathmandu to Karachi, Baltimore to Bradford, we can make new solutions together. WOW festivals make that possible with nearly two million girls, women, boys and men taking part.

“As women's progress accelerates globally we are seeing backlash and resistance surfacing,with basic rights under threat and a frightening increase in violence against women. In using all our creativity to support each other, we can find the courage to move beyond our own circles and learn how other women face challenges different from our own. WOW celebrates and learns from diversity of all kinds - and welcomes everyone to be part of this global movement for change.”

Leading voices appearing at WOW London include Adwoa Aboah, Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, Gillian Anderson, Amal Azzudin, Jo Brand, Lydia X. Z. Brown, Gemma Cairney, Stella Creasy MP, Angela Davis, Benjamina Ebuehi, Reni Eddo-Lodge, Thordis Elva, Suella Fernandes, Harriet Harman MP, Margaret Hodge MP, Bettany Hughes, Baroness Jenkin, Jenny Jones, Lisa Hannigan, Hailey Hanson, Edna Adan Ismail, Helena Kennedy QC, Michael Kimmel, Christina Lamb, Lauren Laverne, Phyllida Lloyd, Fatima Manji, Catherine Mayer, Thomasina Miers, Jennifer Nadel, Andi Oliver, Anne Sofie von Otter, Mary Portas, Elif Şafak, Tulip Siddiq, Sandi Toksvig, Holly Walsh, Harriet Walter, Hannah Witton and more, uniting to call for solutions to modern societal challenges for women. A packed programme of over 200 events includes enlightening talks and debates, performances, workshops, comedy, live music, networking, the smash-hit WOW Speed Mentoring, the under-10s feminist corner and WOW Market – a range of stalls providing information, raising awareness, and showcasing craft and fashion.

WOW Schools Day speakers include Muzoon Almellehan, an 18 year old Syrian refugee and campaigner for girls’ education and the Malala Fund; June Eric-Udorie, an 18 year old campaigner and writer who successfully campaigned to keep feminism on the A-Level Politics syllabus; Saina Hydara, a Youth Board member for Tender, an arts charity working with young people to prevent domestic abuse and sexual violence; and poet and performer Maria Ferguson, who leads a workshop based on her theatre piece Fat Girls Don't Dance (Wed 8 March).

WOW 2017 would not be possible without its generous sponsors and supporters – Bloomberg, UBS, American International Group, Inc. (AIG), the Chartered Insurance Institute, Aon, Esmée Fairbairn Foundation and Amal - A Said Foundation Project.

Southbank Centre is grateful to its WOW Gamechangers Richard and Rosamund Bernays, Michelle Chuang, Mary Anne Cordeiro, Caroline, Mary and Paul Cronson - the Evelyn Sharp Foundation, Ms Miel de Botton, Katie and Mark Denning, Catherine Petitgas, Lady Jill Shaw Ruddock CBE, Joana and Henrik Schliemann, India and Robert Wardrop and Mercedes Zobel for supporting WOW.


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