Ruby Wax on How to be Human: video highlights from WOW 2018

Ruby Wax Highlights | Women of the World Festival 2018

Enjoy highlights from Ruby Wax in conversation with her friend Helena Kennedy QC, as they discuss her new book, How to Be Human: The Manual, with readings, frankness and laughter.


We’ve started treating ourselves like machines and less like humans. We’re so used to upgrading things like our iPhones; as soon as the new one comes out, we don’t think twice, we dump it.
Ruby Wax

WOW returns to Southbank Centre on 8 – 9 March, 2019 with more talks, discussions, events and workshops for all ages.

find out more


Join the WOW conversation on Twitter.



Icelandic food comes to SCFood Market with Öskubox

If you think you’ve eaten your way around the world – or just eaten your way around the famous SCFood Market – we’ve got exciting news. This summer you can find something truly unusual, an Icelandic food stall run by a real life Viking (but don’t worry, she’s friendly).

Whether you’re an adventurous gourmand, a health-conscious connoisseur or just really love hot dogs, we urge you to make your way to Öskubox, the latest in our special Nordic Larder guest traders.

Öskubox is the creation of Oddny Cara Edwards Hildardottir, a Reykjavik native resident in Lymington, where she founded her Nordic cafe. It has been a huge hit on the south coast and now she brings some of her favourite dishes to Southbank Centre.

Öskubox at SCFood Market's Nordic Larder
Öskubox started from a love of food and missing Iceland. It remains very true to my Nordic roots
Oddny Edwards, Öskubox founder

What’s on the menu? It includes fiskibollur, pylsa and smjörbrauð. In case your Icelandic’s a bit rusty, let us explain.

Fiskibollur means fishballs, a dish so common in Iceland and Finland that Oddny says they’re a staple part of the diet. She serves them either on a skewer or in a Finnish rye bread roll, along with slaw and her secret Ö-box sauce (if you don’t fancy fish, try the authentic Swedish meatballs or vegetarian option instead).

Forget about puffin meat and roasted sheep’s skulls – hot dogs, or pylsa as they’re known in Iceland, are what modern-day Vikings really love to chow down on (you can find a hot dog stand in almost any town or village in Iceland). Oddny prides herself on bringing the best quality Nordic pylsa to the UK so you can find out why Icelanders are obsessed for yourself.

And smjörbrauð? OK, that’s a bit of a cheat as they’re more commonly known as open sandwiches in English, and are associated with Denmark as much as Iceland. But they’re a delicious and healthy meal, and Oddny has four options to choose from, including one with homemade pickled herring and a vegetarian version.

Öskubox at SCFood Market's Nordic Larder 2

‘Öskubox started from a love of food and missing Iceland,’ Oddny says. ‘It remains very true to my Nordic roots. We don’t quite dress up like Vikings every day but we do definitely have a modernised Viking battle with swords and helmets regularly. At least in our imaginations we do!’

recipe: Öskubox's Fiskibollur

Everything Oskubox do is about having fun with your food and not being too bound to a recipe, and this is no different. For the fishballs you can easily use whatever fish you want, sometimes Oddny will mix white fish with salmon, salt fish or trout. Or you could switch out the breadcrumbs for flour, and add different herbs to taste.

  • 400-500g coley and cod (depending how generous you feel) 
  • 3 tbsps breadcrumbs (approx)
  • 1-2 eggs 
  • cream 
  • 2 tsp salt 
  • pinch white pepper 
  • dill to taste 
  • chives to taste 
  1. Defrost the fish and mix all the ingredients in a blender until coarse in texture. 
  2. Form into balls and fry in a pan with butter.
  3. And you're done!

Serve with mash and jam or slightly steamed vegetables with remuladi.


At Öskubox, the fiskibollur are often served with a brown meatball sauce. This simple sauce can be made using leftover gravy from a Sunday roast, just add a touch of sour cream, 1-2 tsp of conflour and 1-2 tsp of redcurrant jelly for a great brown sauce to accompany your fiskibollur.


Find Öskubox in the Nordic Larder spot at SCFood Market on the following dates in August: Friday 4 – Sunday 6, Friday 11 – Sunday 13 and Friday 18 – Monday 28.

Part of Nordic Matters

Daniel Barenboim and the fight against MS

In October, Daniel Barenboim will perform two concerts at Southbank Centre with West-Eastern Divan Orchestra, to raise money for the MS Society.

The famous conductor and musician saw first-hand the devastating effect the illness had on Jacqueline du Pré, his wife and herself a world-renowned cellist. 'MS can be a cruel condition,' he says. 'For Jacqueline I saw it destroy the very essence of what it meant to her to be a human being.'

But what is the condition? And how does it affect the lives of those who receive the diagnosis?

Many people have heard of multiple sclerosis, or MS, but not many will know about the symptoms, and the way that it acts on the human body. So what exactly is MS? This video from the MS Society explains more.

What is MS? | MS Awareness Week

The work of the MS Society is critical to helping the 100,000 people living with the condition in the UK today, by offering support and funding ground-breaking research that will transform their lives, giving them hope for the future.

What's your hope for the future? | MS Society

As Daniel Barenboim says: 'Progress is being made in the fight against this unpredictable illness and if Jacqueline had been diagnosed today, her experience of MS may have been more positive. But there is still so much to do. Therefore, every effort must be made towards finding a cure. I am honoured to be conducting this tribute concert at Royal Festival Hall to raise funds for MS research in support of the MS Society.'

There are still tickets available for what are sure to be unforgettable events, on Saturday 28 and Sunday 29 October.

Book now

Africa Utopia market: Meet the faces behind the food

‘My earliest food-related memory is stuffing my face at family parties,’ says Jessica Laditan, the founder of Pop-Up Africa. This summer, she’s inviting Londoners to join the ultimate feast at Africa Utopia, with The African Food & Drink Takeover 2017. The food market’s thirteen stalls offer festival-goers dishes from across the continent, from Nigerian jollof rice to Malagasy curries.

The traders might be serving up a wide range of plates, but they have one thing in common: the desire to share national tastes and original flavours with lucky diners. We spoke to a selection of stallholders about the secrets behind their recipes, and how they got started serving up their favourite cuisines.

Ifeyinwa Frederick, Chuku’s

Emeka and Ifeyinwa Frederick
Ifeyinwa Frederick, pictured with her brother Emeka

‘Chuku’s is the world’s first Nigerian tapas restaurant and home of the ‘chop, chat, chill’, (chop is Nigerian slang for ‘eat’). Our family always struggled to find a place to enjoy Nigerian food outside of either ours or our grandma’s house. When school friends came over to try our food or curiously sampled the jollof rice in our lunchboxes, they always loved it but didn’t know where to find it for themselves.

‘In the restaurant we serve traditional fried plantain, commonly known as dodo in Nigeria, and we are the first and only restaurant to offer plantain waffles. We also sell jollof quinoa, a superfood spin on the traditional Nigerian dish jollof rice, fragrant rice steamed in a rich plum tomato and red pepper sauce - and one of Nigeria's most famous dishes. It has now become our signature dish.

‘When I think of Nigerian food I think of eba and egusi. There’s nothing quite like it in the UK so it can be a bit difficult to imagine. But think of eba as a dough ball made from ground cassava. Egusi is a ground melon-seed stew which is normally enjoyed alongside it: you dip the eba into the egusi before eating. And then multiply the flavours in your mind by 100.’

try Chuku's recipe for jollof and plantain arincini

Emeka Frederick, Chuku’s

Emeka Frederick - Chukus

‘One of my earliest and fondest food-related memories is from one of our first trips to Nigeria. We’d gone to visit my grandad in the village – a magical place. I remember him showing us the pineapples growing out from the ground, plucking fresh mangoes from the trees and calling for his machete to hack into the green outer shell of a coconut, so we could have fresh coconut water. The pièce de résistance was visiting his ranch where we had fresh fish for dinner. Caught just for us, it went from farm to our plates in 20 minutes and literally melted in my mouth.

‘We know that people eat with their eyes first, so [when creating Chukus] we started by thinking about presentation, which led to the idea of small plates. I’d previously lived in Spain and realised that what we were essentially describing was tapas. Having spent much of my time in Spain chilling out in tapas bars with my new friends and making even newer ones, I knew that tapas culture was about more than just small plates of food. The social dining element is key and this seemed to marry so perfectly with the focus of Nigeria’s own dining culture so it wasn’t long before we’d developed our whole ‘chop, chat, chill’ concept.’

see Chuku's dishes on instagram

Eric Mugaju, Maskani

Eric Mugaju - Maskani

‘I'm from Uganda and but have been living in London for years now. When I went home in 2008 I found everyone was eating 'rolex' (trust me, they're much better than the over-priced watches) which turns out to be the cheapest meal sold on Kampala's streets. Being a chef, I was curious to try one for myself and was blown away by how such a tasty dish could be made from such simple ingredients.

'This got me thinking - how had it taken me so long to hear about and try a rolex?! East African food is really under-represented on London's street food scene, which is one of the best in the world in my opinion. As well as new hits like rolex, there are so many delicious traditional dishes that should be shared with the world.

‘When you talk about East Africa, a lot of people just think of Maasai warriors and mountain gorillas. These things are important - but East Africa isn't a monolith! There is a far richer and more complex history than many people realise, which can be traced through food. For example, pilau arrived with Persian sailors in the 2nd century and spread, along with Islam, up the Swahili coast. Over the years it has been adapted to suit local tastes, like a preference for goat and chicken over beef and lamb. As the recipe spread inland via the spice and slave routes, and later with the arrival of large Indian communities under British colonialism (who already had their own version of pilau) the dish was refined. Even our own version of the dish is an example of how food changes as people and cultures travel - the idea to shape the rice into balls was born after a stint working in an Italian restaurant, making arancini!’

try Eric's recipe for mandazi

Alicia Ama, Chalé! Let’s Eat

Alicia Ama - Chale Lets Eat

‘I wanted a change in life so I decided to start working with something I knew I could never get bored of - food! My top five store cupboard essentials are fresh ginger, cinnamon, coconut oil, black-eyed beans and gari - toasted cassava flour. It’s really versatile and can be used to make quick dinners or breakfast.

‘The dish that reminds me of Ghana is okro stew with akple. Okro stew is a filling stew made from chopped jumbo okros, steamed beef or crabs and smoked fish. It’s similar to gumbo but with strong smoky flavours and lots of textures. Akple (or banku) is a light dumpling made from maize and cassava dough. It’s slightly tangy because of the way the grains are fermented and compliments the smoky flavours of the stew perfectly. To me it represents Ghana because it can't be rushed (Ghanaian food is the original slow food); it’s healthy and it's also the official dish of the Ewes - the ethnic group my family originate from.’

try Alicia's recipe for kewele

Nimatu Owino, CHAM CHAM

Nimatu Owino - CHAM CHAM

‘I started a food blog in 2014, then the Ebola crisis hit and I wanted to find a way to raise money for Ebola charities - and CHAM CHAM supper club was born. I donated some of the proceeds to LunchBoxGift (a charitable initiative in Sierra Leone). Then last year I began doing pop-up markets. I like to shop for ingredients at Well St Butchers and Mircey Fruit and Veg, near Homerton, and Ridley Road Market in Dalston.

‘My favourite thing on the menu is binch (meaning beans) topped with a fried egg - I label it as a Liberian/Salone-style baked beans. It’s black-eyed peas slowly cooked in sustainable palm oil with onions - such a simple but super tasty dish . A classic Liberian dish is the plasa, essentially a stew made with the leaves of many root vegetables. There’s the cassava leaf plasa, (sweet) potato leaf plasa and bitter leaf plasa, which is Liberia's national dish.’

try Nimatu's recipe for pepper chicken and sweet potato rosti

Prisca Bakare, The Lemur House

Prisca Bakare, The Lemur House

‘Our family were discussing our homeland, Madagascar. We all agreed that since moving to England, we had seen very little about the island other than the animated film and a few BBC documentaries focusing on its wildlife. So we decided to start a business to introduce food from Madagascar to the UK. Madagascar is very diverse, so dishes vary depending on what part you travel to. Rice, however, is the common factor as it is eaten in every part of the country. We are from a small village called Mahajanga. We eat lots of fish because we are near the sea but a dish called Romazava is popular, which is basically a light broth.

‘One of our most popular dishes is our whole-fried tilapia fish topped with tomato and onions, in a rich sauce, served with rice and Malagasy salad. Our coconut curries also seem to be a great hit! They come served in a variety of ways: chicken, tilapia or beef. To make great food, cooking with fresh ingredients is key, and trying to source ingredients that are from your homeland. Our curries have a unique flavour because the curry powder we use is from Madagascar and this gives them a great taste.’

try Prisca's recipe for tilapia coconut curry

Tokunbo Koiki, Tokunbo’s Kitchen

Tokunbo Koiki, Tokunbo’s Kitchen

‘I launched Tokunbo’s Kitchen at Africa Utopia in 2015 (initially trading as Tee’s Food Corner). To date, our most popular dish is ayamase, beef slow-cooked in a sauce of green bell peppers, onions, ginger, garlic and thyme, most commonly served with rice. My personal favourite is puff-puff, a sweet fried dough that is fluffy, spongy and simply delicious! My 10-year-old daughter loves it too, and if I am not working at the weekend, we will make up a batch together and eat it hot with some ice cream.

‘My tip for cooking well is to find two or three recipes for the food or meal you want to make. Everyone has a slightly different ways in which they cook and you can put all their different techniques together to create a spin of your own.

‘Nigeria is made up of over 250 ethnic groups with a vast range of dishes. Just three of the dishes that represent Nigeria to me are suya, fried yam and catfish pepper soup (also known as 'point and kill' as the choice of catfish that ends up in your plate is totally down to you).’

try Tokunbo's recipes for beef ayamase and jollof rice

try the dishes

Mouth watering? We're not surprised. You'll find each of the stall holders above, and their signature dishes, at The African Food & Drink Takeover 2017 under Hungerford Bridge from 13-16 July, as part of Africa Utopia.

Can't make it to Africa Utopia? Each of the stallholders above have selected one of their favourite recipes for you to try at home.

try the recipes

Four amazing South Asian recipes inspired by Alchemy

As KERB market returns to Southbank Centre for Alchemy, we thought we’d help you conjure up the festival's best street food in your own kitchen, from tandoori chicken to sweet, spicy chai.

Here are four fabulous South Asian recipes from some of KERB's most popular vendors for you to try at home. Tweet us your creations with the tags #KERBdoesAlchemy and #AlchemySC

chaigaram’s chai


2 whole cloves
4 cardamom pods
1 cinnamon stick
1 inch of fresh ginger, peeled and roughly sliced
1 teaspoon ground black pepper
3 cups water
1⁄2 cup milk
2 teaspoons raw sugar / honey
2 teaspoons Assam black tea (or two teabags)


1. In a mortar, crush the cloves, cardamom pods and cinnamon
2. Add 2 cups of water and 2 teaspoons of Assam loose leaf black tea to a small pot and heat on a medium-high heat
3. Add the crushed spices, ginger and black pepper and bring to the boil
4. Once boiling, turn off the heat briefly. Add 1/2 cup of milk and desired amount of sweetener (2 teaspoons of raw sugar/honey is perfect)
5. Bring back to the boil, stirring as it heats
6. Turn off the heat and let it sit for a minute to finish steeping
7. Pour into cups, using a mesh strainer to catch the spices.

Serves two

bun kabab’s shakr kandi (sweet potato wedges)


1 small sweet potato
1 tablespoon Bombay mix
1 tablespoon diced red onion


1. Wash the sweet potato, wrap in foil and place on a baking tray
2. Place the potato in a hot oven at 100C and cook for 40 minutes, until soft to touch
3. Once cool, remove the foil and cut the potato length-wise into 4 wedges
4. Heat a dry griddle on the stove and brush with vegetable oil and place the wedges, skin facing up
5. Turn the wedges until both sides of the sweet potato flesh has browned with charcoal griddle marks.
6. Place the wedges on a plate and sprinkle with the diced red onion and Bombay mix.

Best served with tamarind sauce



SpiceBox_Cauli image
gupta’s tandoori chicken


1kg boneless chicken cut into small pieces
1 head ground garlic
2 inches ginger, grated
1 heaped teaspoon turmeric
2 heaped teaspoons ground cumin seeds
1 heaped teaspoon ground coriander
2 heaped teaspoons Tandoori masala
1 tablespoon oil
2 heaped tablespoons yoghurt
Juice of 1 lemon
2 green chillies, very finely chopped.


1. Mix the chicken with all ingredients and leave overnight
2. Cook in a pot or the oven on 180C for 45 minutes until cooked through
3. Serve in a wrap, with fresh salad and some mango chutney or pickle, mint raita, garlic or chilli sauces.

Serves four

Recipes compiled by Reeta Loi Shaw

spice box’s tandoori cauli-steak with coriander chutney sauce


1 large cauliflower
1 tablespoon paprika / Kashmiri chilli powder
1 tablespoon oil

1 tablespoon ground coriander
1 tablespoon ground cumin

Coriander chutney

2 bunches coriander

1 small green chilli

1 small bunch parsley

4 garlic cloves

Juice and zest of 3 lemons

1 teaspoon sugar

1 teaspoon salt

125ml oil


1. Place the cauliflower, stem down, onto a chopping board and slice vertically into 1.5cm ‘steaks’
2. Lay flat on a baking tray or large plate and drizzle with oil, making sure both sides are lightly covered
3. Mix all spices and salt in a separate bowl and use your fingers to sprinkle the spice mix onto both sides of the cauliflower - they should be a deep red colour
4. Place steaks on a hot grill and cook for 7 minutes, turning twice. Allow to soften and slightly char
5. To make the chutney, mix all ingredients in a blender and spoon over the cooked steaks.

So you've attempted the recipes, now meet the KERB market traders behind them.

Meet the vendors

taste the real thing

Love Asian food? A visit to KERB during Alchemy is a must. Sample dishes from Pakistan, Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, Nepal and India – and don't miss the KERB cocktail and beer bar. 

Women of the World 2017

Braving an ageing body

Lu Kemp, director of The Lounge reminisces on her youth and discusses her research into older age for the production.

In my 20s, if I thought about my body at all, it was about my hips and my bum, to wish that they were a bit narrower, a bit higher. My body was an entirely aesthetic concern, its functionality was so much second nature to me that it deserved barely a second thought: it ran, it cycled and swam, dropped me down to the ground to scoop up a dropped wallet or pick up a baby, balanced me with ease on the most precarious of ledges. But my late 30s signaled the coming storm in a brutal way. A ripped cartilage put me out of running-swimming-cycling action for six weeks and I was shocked at the speed with which I gave up doing things. A trip to the shops was a pain, so I drank tea without milk. I couldn’t be bothered to go out to the pub, so I stayed in. I chose to work from home, I receded. And I simultaneously developed, to my surprise, a grudging empathy for my aging mother’s lack of desire to travel beyond the safety of her home.

The knee healed. I swim and cycle again, but these days, when I think about my body, I think about my feet. And I think about my stomach muscles.  

Over the past four years, whilst developing our production The Lounge with theatre company Inspector Sands, I have been researching older age - talking to a wide spectrum of people who work with, or live with, old age; people in the bracket of ‘younger old’ (those over the age of retirement) and ‘older old’ (those over 85-years-old), gerontologists, geriatricians, health practitioners who interview people in their oldest age and in the last year of their lives, epidemiologists, researchers into ‘health trajectories’; and those who work at the cutting edge of technology for older age.

And of all the fascinating conversations I have had, what has stuck with me personally is the need to look after those two parts of my body I rarely thought of before. Health in old age is complex, a web of interrelated concerns - our decline is rarely attributed to one isolated disease or accident. But balance is key. The first fall is a harbinger - if an older person falls, they are likely to fall again - and the fall is what takes most people out of independent living and into care.

I am not a medic, I am drawing on the story I am left with after multiple conversations. Our feet are messengers, telling us what we need to know in order to keep our balance, and, together with our stomach muscles, allow us to adjust that balance. Maintaining these little considered parts of my anatomy may be the saving grace of my old age. Either that, or I should take classes in falling, and fall, like a baby over and over again into my old age - each time, falling better. Lu Kemp, director of The Lounge

The Lounge opens at Soho Theatre, Tuesday 25 April – Saturday 20 May 2017.

Do women need to wear killer heels in the workplace?

What does it really take to be heard? We asked Sheelagh McNamara, voice coach and lead tutor on the RADA in Business Executive Presence for Women course, if donning a pair of skyscraper heels should be part of the equation.

Being the Leading Lady: A Workshop

Many women embrace high heels as a tool to boost their confidence in the workplace and gain height. There is a perception that a pair of heels can boost your authority – yet could it also cause adverse effects?

Sheelagh explains the effect that sky-high heels can have on women’s vocal and physical presence: 'Most women (although not all) will wear some sort of heel in a situation where they want to create impact, and that in itself is not a problem. The difficulty comes when you wear vertiginous heels, and even more so when those shoes have a platform. They don’t allow you to connect with the ground properly, as your weight is pushed forward onto the front of the foot.

Wearing high heels can cause your breath to become shallow, your pitch to become high, you speak rapidly and  sound breathy. All of this lowers your authority and impact. While we’re not talking about aping male voices, we do associate gravitas with a slower pace and deeper pitch.'

So if you’re still attached to your favourite pair of Jimmy Choos, can you overcome this? RADA in Business courses, such as the taster session Sheelagh is delivered at WOW – Women of the World festival 2017, cover core elements of physical presence, ensuring your posture is giving you the grounded, balanced stance to speak with confidence and authority. One female course participant, who struggled with feeling short, spoke of her amazement at feeling two inches taller after a RADA in Business masterclass – without changing her shoes!

On Friday 10 March 2017 at WOW – Women of the World festival, Sheelagh lead a practical masterclass that explored skills that help people step into the spotlight and take up space – so that when they speak, others listen. Sheelagh encouraged participants to try out different skills and techniques to help maximise their impact, not only in the workplace but also in their day-to-day life.

Leading female voices join thousands of women at WOW Festival 2017

Leading female voices join thousands of women at Wow – Women Of The World Festival 2017 to call for swifter change.

Download press release

Following a year of change and political upheaval across the globe, with a questioning of women’s roles and rights, famous female artists, writers and activists including Gillian Anderson, Angela Davis, Sandi Toksvig, Jennifer Nadel, Catherine Mayer, Elif Şafak, Fatima Manji, Lydia X. Z. Brown, Reni Eddo-Lodge, Gemma Cairney, Margaret Hodge MP, Harriet Harman MP, Baroness Jenkin, and Bettany Hughes are uniting to call for solutions to modern societal challenges for women.

In the return of Southbank Centre’s annual flagship festival WOW – W omen of the World, supported by Bloomberg, female stars will join t housands of women and girls, politicians, business leaders, artists, activists and refugees from across the UK, and the globe, to celebrate women and girls and explore together the paths to a gender equal world.

WOW – Women of the World takes place from Tuesday 7 – Sunday 12 March 2017 and asks what Trump, Brexit and beyond mean for women. It celebrates everything that women and girls have done, and will do in the future, whilst taking a candid look at wide-ranging issues that prevent them from achieving their potential: from violence against women and girls, ageism, to “locker-room talk” and everyday sexism in the UK and across the world. It tackles subjects such as alcoholism, rape, toilets, intersectionality, the role of men in gender equality, refugees, and criminal justice, alongside live music, comedy, dance classes, workshops, and performance. The festival also sees a celebration of the Nordic nations, as part of Southbank Centre’s year of Nordi c programming Nordic Matters, and explores the social learnings of these countries that consistently top the gender equality indexes.

Founder of WOW festival, Southbank Centre Artistic Director, Jude Kelly CBE said: “Events of the past year have shown that, despite great strides by the feminist movement, the world still speaks a largely male language. More than ever, we must keep up the fight for gender equality and look at the far-reaching implications of the current political climate on our women and girls – from the localised to the global. We take the opportunity to hone in on women in politics, and the achievements of older women, a subject too often overlooked. We also look to the Nordic nations, who have long been seen as leaders in advocating gender equality, investigating the impact of their approach, a nd what we can learn from each other.”

Launched by Southbank Centre in 2010, WOW is now a global movement, with international WOW festivals reaching over one million people across five continents, and growing year on year. Over 25,000 people came to WOW London in 2016. This year’s festival once again marks International Women’s D ay on 8 March and coincides with the first WOW Hull, part o f Hull UK City of Culture 2017, and the first WOW Finland.

Highlights of WOW 2017 include powerful new calls for change. Co-founder of the Women’s Equality Party Catherine Mayer laun ches her new book, Attack of the Fifty-Foot Women, in conversation with Sandi Toksvig. This looks at why no single country or culture has yet achieved parity and whether we will ever live in a gender equal world (Tuesday 7 March). Actress, writ er and activist Gillian Anderson ( The Fall, The X-Files) and broadcaster, writer and activist Jennifer Nadel also launch their new book WE: A Manifesto for Women Everywhere, an inspiring and provocative manifesto for change, proposing a vision for a different, fairer and more fulfilling way of living (Friday 10 March). Southbank Centre Artist in Residence, TV and radio personality, journalist and teen ambassador Gemma Cairney talks about her publishing debut O PEN: A Toolkit for How Magic and Messed Up Life Can Be; and Harriet Harman, one of Britain’s most prominent campaigning politicians, will discuss her groundbreaking memoir A Woman’s Work, a rare political autobiography by a woman about the last 30 years in British politics, and of a life dedicated to fighting for equality and respect for women (Saturday 11 March).

WOW also welcomes prominent American activist, scholar and author Angela Davis, who has been at the forefront of movements for economic, racial, and gender justice over many decades (Saturday 11 March).

WOW – Women of the World highlights

  • Over 200 events across six days, including talks, debates, live music, comedy, workshops, the smash-hit WOW Speed Mentoring and WOW Market – a range of stalls providing information, raising awareness, and showcasing work, craft and fashion
  • What Does Brexit Mean for Women? – a debate on the pros and cons of the referendum result with leading UK political voices (Friday 10 March)
  • Political Titans: The Secret Power of Older Women in Politics – women including Margaret Hodge MP and Baroness Jenkin of Kennington talk about their careers and experiences in politics, the double standards displayed in the portrayal of male and female politicians, and the force of older women in campaigning and party politics (Friday 10 March)
  • Women on the Move Awards support the contribution of migrant and refugee women to UK society, and the stories of refugee women are featured throughout WOW
  • A Nordic focus throughout the festival covers topics such as: what we can learn from Nordic parenting; the Nordic approach to prostitution and its legal framework, Sweden’s feminist foreign policy and its objectives: and comparing how rape and sexual assault are dealt with by criminal justice systems in the UK and in the Nordic countries
  • Turkish author Elif Şafak and historian Bettany Hughes discuss Istanbul, how women have shaped the city, and the lives of women living there today (Sunday 12 March)
  • Comedian and #periodpositive campaign founder Chella Quint breaks taboos around ,menstruation in her one-woman show Adventures in Menstruating (Saturday 11 March)
  • Under 10s Feminist Corner brings young boys and girls together for an interactive workshop on what it means to be a girl and how to start a campaign in your bedroom (Saturday 11 & Sunday 12 March)
  • Journalist and author Reni Eddo-Lodge presents an exclusive extract from her forthcoming book Why I’m No Longer Talking To White People About Race, on the frustrations, discomfort and social implications of talking about race (Saturday 11 March)
  • Channel 4 journalist Fatima Manji talks about Muslim women and the media, and her own experiences of prejudice (Saturday 11 March)
  • Writers Paula Varjack, Jules Grant and Michelle Tea are highlights of this year’s Polari – a platform for LGBT writers returning with a women’s special hosted by author and journalist Paul Burston (Wednesday 8 March)
  • Mirth Control – WOW’s annual night of comedy and music inspired by great women returns with a nod to our Nordic neighbours, hosted by Sandi Toksvig (Sunday 12 March)
  • Des James – father of Private Cheryl James whose tragic death at Deepcut barracks revealed a deeply misogynistic environment – talks about his long battle for justice and use of the Human Rights Act for his daughter with lawyer Emma Norton and Director of Liberty, Martha Spurrier (Saturday 11 March)
  • Sessions to empower women in the world of technology, from discussions featuring the women making up 14.4% of the STEM industry, to free crash courses on app building, digital literacy and practical tools for online safety, with expert guidance from UK Government advisor and founder of #techmums Dr Sue Black OBE, Dr Elina Berglund Scherwitzl, former particle physicist, discoverer of the Higgs Boson and co-founder of start up NaturalCycles, and Silkie Carlo, Policy Officer at Liberty
  • An abundance of free activities including a Friday Lunch concert featuring singer-songwriter Nilüfer Yanya (Friday 10 March)

WOW 2017 would not be possible without the support of its generous sponsor Bloomberg.


For further press information please contact the Southbank Centre press office

WOW Day Passes (£22) and WOW 3-Day Pass (£50)- please note some events at WOW are separately ticketed and cannot be accessed as part of the Day Pass.

Please refer to the website for ticketing information on standalone events.

Events go on sale to Southbank Centre members on Thursday 15 December and to the general public on Friday 16 December.

Tickets for Angela Davis will go on sale 17 January 2017.

WOW panel highlights

Friday 10 March

  • What Does Brexit Mean for Women? – a debate on the pros and cons of the referendum result with leading UK political voices
  • Political Titans: The Secret Power of Older Women in Politics – women with long political careers talk about their experiences, the double standards displayed in the portrayal of male and female politicians, and the force of older women in campaigning and party politics
  • Women & Pensions – in the wake of the increased state pension age for women and the impact on women born in the 1950s, a discussion about gender-based pension inequalities what how women can protect themselves
  • The Nordic Model – a discussion on the challenges, controversies and benefits of the ‘Nordic Model’ (Sex Buyer Law) which makes it illegal to buy ‘sexual services’ but not to sell them
  • Guilty Until Proven Innocent – a session on rape, sexual assault and the UK justice system, looking at models in countries such as Sweden and Iceland, to consider what systems would serve UK women better
  • One Planet, Double Standards: Women, Climate Change and Equality – a panel debate from women at the forefront of climate change to find out what role gender has to play in actioning change
  • Please Sir, Can I Have Some More – an interactive and practical session on how to know your worth and get a payrise
  • The Great Imposter – a session exploring how ‘imposter syndrome’ is connected to gender inequality, providing tools to overcome it
  • International Activism – a discussion led by international activists about how to turn local activism into global solidarity
  • Crash and Burn – a discussion around women’s experience of alcoholism, addiction and mental illness, looking at how women deal with crisis and survival

Saturday 11 March

  • Disability, Women and Taking Action – speakers including activist Lydia X Z Brown discuss why disability is so often left out of conversations about intersectionality and marginalised by much of the women’s rights movement
  • Childcare Utopia: What Can We Learn from Nordic Parenting? – a discussion about the policies which put Nordic countries at the forefront of childcare and if these could work in other contexts e.g. Finland’s famous baby box and Sweden’s generous shared parental leave
  • Women Crossing Borders – a chance to meet the real women behind the headlines about refugees and migrants, asking why women flee their home countries and make life-threatening journeys to unknown futures
  • Teens Talk Back – a panel of teenage girls discuss feminism, their opinion of it, and that of their peers
  • Badass Lesbians from History – a celebration of overlooked lesbian women from history
  • WOW Bites featuring Maria Munir (who came out as non-binary to President Obama), Edie Jones, a 15-year-old student challenging gender equality in the curriculum, Emma Beeson and Elise Bevan, clinical negligence lawyers, Peter Tai Christensen on how the Swedish Mansplaining hotline caused a domestic stir and went on to take the international media by storm, and Gynelle Leon, who quit her city job to start PRICK, London’s first ever cactus shop

Sunday 12 March

  • The World Remains Silent: Yazidi Women and Girls - campaigners and activists tell of the current situation for Yazidi women and girls, and how government and individuals can help
  • Potty Parity – a session explaining why you should give a sh*t about toilets, and the devastating effect toilet facilities can have on women and girls across the world
  • Old Age is For The Brave – a panel of experts discuss the realities of ageing and look at loneliness, health and austerity.
  • BBW (*Big Beautiful Women) – speakers including columnist Callie Thorpe, plus-size blogger Stephanie Yeboah and journalist Anita Bhagwandas discuss the media’s negative attitude to fat women and how fat activists and plus-size bloggers are changing the landscape.
  • We Need to Talk About Alcohol – an investigation into the drinking habits of British women, 50% of whom drink too much according to World Health Organisation
  • Ending Violence Against Women and Girls – a debate about how to change attitudes towards one of the most common abuses of human rights, what prevention methods work, and
  • what don’t
  • Badass Feminists from History – a celebration of overlooked heroines
  • No Country for Young Women – a talk outlining the financial and safety concerns for young women in the UK

Notes to editors

Southbank Centre is the UK’s largest arts centre, comprising three iconic buildings (Royal Festival Hall, Queen Elizabeth Hall and Hayward Gallery) and occupying a 21-acre site that sits in the midst of London’s most vibrant cultural quarter on the South Bank of the Thames. The site has an extraordinary creative and architectural history stretching back to the 1951 Festival of Britain. Building on this rich heritage, Southbank Centre offers an extensive artistic and cultural programme including annual and one-off themed festivals and classical and contemporary music, performance, dance, visual art and literature and spoken word events throughout the year.

Southbank Centre's WOW – Women of the World festival is a global festival movement launched by Jude Kelly CBE in London in 2010 (with the first festival in March 2011) that celebrates women and girls, and looks at the obstacles that stop them from achieving their potential. To date, WOW has reached over one million people worldwide and this number is growing year on year. With the HRH Duchess of Cornwall as President, Southbank Centre is now planning a WOW Commonwealth festival at the Commonwealth Games in 2018 with all 53 nations. Each festival across the world - made up of talks, debates, music, activism, mentoring, pop ups and performance - celebrates women and girls, takes a frank look at what prevents them from achieving their potential, and raises awareness globally of the issues they face and possible solutions. It reaches girls and women, boys and men from a broad range of social backgrounds and supplies a completely different sense of action and energy than a conventional conference approach. Speakers have included Malala Yousafzai, Christine Lagarde, Salma Hayek, Annie Lennox, Gordon Brown, Julie Walters, Patrick Stewart and many more including hundreds of women and men who don’t have public profiles but are working everyday to achieve gender equality. Over 25,000 people came to WOW London in 2016, thousands more have come to WOWs across the world and festival organisers have collaborated on cross-continental projects. 

WOW 2017 festivals around the world

  • 18 February – WOW Kathmandu
  • 7 – 12 March – WOW London, UK #WOWLDN @WOWtweetUK Facebook
  • 8 – 12 March – WOW Finland #WOWFIN @wow_finland Facebook
  • 10 – 12 March – WOW Hull, UK
  • 23 – 25 March – WOW Melbourne, Australia
  • 4 – 7 May – WOW Apollo, New York, USA - #WOWApollo
  • 20 – 21 May – WOW Chester, UK


Bloomberg, the global business and financial information and news leader, gives influential decision makers a critical edge by connecting them to a dynamic network of information, people and ideas. The company’s strength – delivering data, news and analytics through innovative technology, quickly and accurately – is at the core of the Bloomberg Professional service. Bloomberg’s enterprise solutions build on the company’s core strength: leveraging technology to allow customers to access, integrate, distribute and manage data and information across organizations more efficiently and effectively. Bloomberg Philanthropies, which encompasses all of Michael R. Bloomberg’s charitable activities, including his foundation, corporate and personal giving, supports arts and culture, education, environment, sustainability and public health charities and non-profit organisations around the world. Bloomberg's support of Women of the World builds on a long history of collaboration across Southbank Centre that encompasses a wide range of arts exhibition, public commissions and literature programmes.

For more information on Bloomberg, visit

For more information on Bloomberg Philanthropies, visit

About Nordic Matters

Nordic Matters is a year-long festival of Nordic art and culture in 2017 at London's Southbank Centre, featuring music, dance, theatre, visual arts, participation, talks and debates, and gastronomy. Chosen from a number of international applicants, Southbank Centre is the sole recipient of a grant from The Nordic Council of Ministers for a new festival celebrating the very best of Nordic art and culture throughout 2017 – one of the biggest cultural-political partnerships of its kind. A particular emphasis will be placed on the idea of play fostering curiosity and creativity, for people of all ages but especially children and young people. Moving beyond popular perceptions of ‘Nordic Noir’ the programme is designed to embed Nordic culture and artists in Southbank Centre’s year-long artistic offer and offer a platform to some of the more ‘hidden voices’ from Greenland, Åland and the Faroe Islands.

About The Nordic Council of Ministers

The Nordic Council of Ministers is the official inter governmental body for co operation in the Nordic Region. The Council brings together representatives of the governments of Denmark, Sweden, Norway Finland and Iceland, as well as the three autonomous areas, the Faroe Islands, Greenland and Åland Islands. The Presidency of the Nordic Council rotates between the five Nordic countries and is currently held by Finland. In 2017 Norway will hold the Presidency.

Man Down podcast: Being A Man festival 2016

Being A Man Festival 2016 Podcast - Man Down by southbankcentre

Vlogger and campaigner Johnny Benjamin, comedian Aaron Giles and founder of CALM Jane Powell ask what needs to be done to tackle the social stigma around male mental health.

For more like this visit Being A Man festival

People used to say to me 'you're a big boy now, stop crying'
Johnny Benjamin