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Women of the World Festival

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Women of the World Festival
Founded8 March 2010 (2010-03-08)
FounderJude Kelly
ActivityCelebrates the achievements of women and girls and highlights the obstacles they face
Patron(s)Queen Camilla (president)
Websitewww.thewowfoundation.com Edit this at Wikidata

WOW – Women of the World Festival (WOW, WOW Festival) is a network of arts festivals that celebrate the achievements of women and girls as well as highlighting the obstacles that face them, and is part of a global feminist movement. The WOW Foundation spearheads the festivals and forms partnerships to hold WOW festivals across the world.


The festival was founded in London in 2010 by Jude Kelly, a theatre director who was at that time artistic director of the Southbank Centre. She felt that the feminist movement was "in a lull" at that time, and that it needed something to revitalise it.[1][2]

Jude Kelly speaking at the 2014 festival

Since 2015, Queen Camilla has been WOW's president.[3] In 2015, the BBC broadcast Woman's Hour from the London festival.[4] By 2018, there had been 42 WOW festivals in 23 countries.[5]

The WOW Foundation became an independent charity in 2018, with Kelly as its first director.[6] She stepped down from her position at the Southbank Centre in May 2018, in order to concentrate on WOW.[5]

In 2020, the festival's tenth edition featured an address by Camilla (then Duchess of Cornwall).[7] In May of that year, the WOW Foundation ran a two-day online event in partnership with BBC Arts[8] and a 24-hour marathon festival called WOW Global 24, with participants from around the world, which was produced in-house.[9]

In March 2021, as the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic continued to be felt, the festival moved online.[10]


WOW Festivals take place all year round in various locations. The WOW London Festival takes place over several days in early March, around International Women's Day. WOW includes talks, debates, music, comedy, performances and mentoring sessions on a range of themes and topics.[citation needed]


At first, the festival's principal venue was the Southbank Centre in London. There are also festivals in many other locations, both within the UK and throughout the world. As of 2019 these included the cities of Cambridge,[11] Liverpool, Cardiff, Leeds, New York City, Rio de Janeiro, Hargeysa (Somaliland), Alexandria, Beijing, Athens, Karachi, and Istanbul, as well as in Finland and several locations in Australia, Bangladesh and Nepal.[12]


The first WOW event was held in Katherine, Northern Territory, in 2013. Subsequent events have been held in that town, as well as Melbourne and various cities in Queensland. After an initial event in Brisbane, Queensland, in 2015,[13] WOW Australia has been based in that city since 2021 (having had to cancel the 2020 event owing to the COVID-19 pandemic). It is a three-year collaboration between Queensland Performing Arts Centre (Southbank Centre) and the non-profit Of One Mind, and supported by the Queensland Government.[14]

WOW has worked with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women[15] and is a supporter of the Uluru Statement from the Heart.[16]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Aitkenhead, Decca (26 January 2018). "Southbank director Jude Kelly: 'Saying you're a feminist is not enough'". The Guardian. London. Retrieved 27 January 2018.
  2. ^ Brown, Mark (18 January 2018). "Southbank Centre artistic director Jude Kelly to step down". The Guardian. London. Retrieved 27 January 2018.
  3. ^ Jobson, Robert (16 February 2015). "Camilla to be president of Women of the World festival". London Evening Standard. Retrieved March 2015.
  4. ^ WOW - Women of the World Festival, Woman's Hour, BBC Radio 4, March 2015.
  5. ^ a b Dex, Robert (18 January 2018). "Jude Kelly quits Southbank Centre after more than a decade". Evening Standard. Retrieved 23 November 2021.
  6. ^ "THE WOW FOUNDATION - Officers". Companies House. Retrieved 19 January 2019.
  7. ^ "Duchess of Cornwall addresses Women of the World Festival". uk.news.yahoo.com. 6 March 2020. Retrieved 23 November 2021.
  8. ^ "BBC and WOW unite for online Women of the World Festival". Voice Online. 15 May 2020. Retrieved 23 November 2021.
  9. ^ "Girls' education in time of crisis features in worldwide online festival". Theirworld. 23 February 2024. Retrieved 25 March 2024.
  10. ^ Griffiths, Sophie (31 January 2021). "EVENTS: Women Of The World Festival announces major programme for 2021". DIVA. Retrieved 23 November 2021.
  11. ^ Tasker, Dave (23 October 2014). "WOW Cambridge". School of Clinical Medicine. Retrieved 4 August 2022.
  12. ^ "WOW - Women of the World: A global movement" (PDF). WOW. Archived from the original (Map) on 8 December 2022. (2019)
  13. ^ "The Herstory of WOW". WOW Australia. 28 June 2020. Retrieved 8 November 2023.
  14. ^ "Home page". WOW Australia. 8 June 2021. Retrieved 4 August 2022.
  15. ^ "Wiyi Yani U Thangani - Women's Voices". WOW Australia. Retrieved 4 August 2022.
  16. ^ "Uluru Statement from the Heart". WOW Australia. Retrieved 4 August 2022.