Southbank Centre Artistic Director Jude Kelly launched WOW – Women of the World - in 2010 to mark the centenary of International Women’s Day. It has become a major festival that celebrates women and girls and looks at the obstacles they face.
Since its launch, WOW has grown internationally with 20 festivals across five continents to date, and over one million women and girls, men and boys taking part. From Finland to Folkestone and Derry to Dhaka, crossing further continents to Harlem and Hargeysa, Brisbane and Baltimore, WOW continues to grow and cross borders around the world.
British Council partnership
Southbank Centre have partnered with the British Council to bring WOW to South Asia. Our global network of offices and local staff around the world make us the ideal partner to implement WOW festivals that embrace local cultures and communities, whilst still maintaining the unique format WOW is famous for.
In May 2016, Karachi became the first South Asian city to host a full scale WOW Festival. Organised by the British Council and six local partner organisations, WOW Karachi 2016 brought together women from all over Pakistan - politicians, community leaders, artists, activists, writers and entrepreneurs – to discuss significant issues facing women today, celebrate their achievements and amplify Pakistani voices.
As our team of curators and partners work on the finishing touches for WOW Karachi 2017, Colombo and Kathmandu are also in the process of organising their own WOW festivals, with Colombo’s being held over the same weekend as the Karachi festival. Audiences in Karachi and Colombo will be connected digitally as they enjoy the festival both in their own country and each other’s.
Next year the British Council and Southbank Centre will collaborate again, on WOW Bangladesh.