WOW Global

WOW – Women of the World festival has expanded beyond Southbank Centre to tour the globe, uniting people from all corners of the world and society.

Jude Kelly, Artistic Director of Southbank Centre, launched WOW London in 2011 to mark the centenary of International Women’s Day. Jude conceived WOW as a major global festival that not only celebrated women and girls around the world, but also looked at the obstacles they face. It would be a place where hundreds of women’s stories could be shared, feelings vented, fun had, minds influenced and hearts expanded. 

WOW quickly grew beyond the 21 acres of the Southbank Centre in response to an enthusiastic demand for a global network of festivals. Within a year of its debut in London, the festival began to expand. 

Since its launch in 2011, 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.  

Platform for debate and discussion

WOW is for everyone. It is bold and broad-based in its approach, both lively and serious, and feeds the demand to discuss anything and everything, from revolutionary women, economics, politics and health, to sex, pop culture, sport and the arts. It brings people together from all corners of society – both speakers and audience members – energising and providing the inspiration and tools to make change.

The festival is planned through a series of community ‘think-in’ sessions and made up of talks, debates, performances, speed-mentoring, exhibitions, workshops and networking opportunities. 

Past speakers have included Malala Yousafzai, Gordon Brown MP, Patrick Stewart, Julie Walters, Shami Chakrabarti, Salma Hayek, Annie Lennox, Caitlin Moran, Vivienne Westwood, Grayson Perry, Sandi Toksvig, Leymah Gbowee, and Christine Lagarde.

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Thu, 03/23/2017 - 12:03
WE: A Manifesto for Women Everywhere
Tue, 03/21/2017 - 10:33
Listen to audio highlights of Southbank Centre's WOW – Women of the World festival 2017
Thu, 03/16/2017 - 13:31
How do we fight sexism without ignoring other issues such as race, disability, sexuality and class?
Thu, 03/16/2017 - 13:13
Hear insights from the journalist and Channel 4 News reporter
Thu, 03/16/2017 - 12:51
The radio presenter talked about her new book, OPEN: A Toolkit for How Magic Messed Up Life Can Be
Mon, 03/13/2017 - 17:16
The legendary activist spoke with Southbank Centre's Artistic Director, Jude Kelly, about women, race and class in the post-Trump era
Mon, 03/13/2017 - 17:05
Listen to the Nigerian novelist speaking live from Southbank Centre's Women of the World festival 2017
Mon, 03/13/2017 - 16:56
Hear a panel of discuss what challenges may lie ahead for British women, post-Brexit
Sun, 03/12/2017 - 12:25
We asked the co-founder of the Women’s Equality Party how she sees the future for women
Gender Politics & Equality
Global Culture & Ethnicity
Fri, 03/10/2017 - 18:05
Award-winning journalist and black feminist Reni writes about class, race, gender and social justice

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WOW – Women of the World forthcoming festivals


  • 4 – 7 May: WOW Apollo, New York, USA #WOWApollo
  • 20 – 21 May: WOW Chester, UK
  • 16 – 17 September: WOW Beijing, China
  • 13 – 15 October: WOW Exeter, UK
  • 27 – 29 October: WOW Perth, UK
  • 17 – 19 November: WOW Bradford, UK   
  • 2 – 3 December: WOW Colombo, Sri Lanka
  • 2 – 3 December: WOW Karachi, Pakistan

wow stories

2014 was an unprecedented year for the rights of women and girls, but did some things go backward?
Discussion of human rights abuses against women

shop WOW

A selection of our favourite shop items from the Women of the World festival
Somali land Tote Bag

Somaliland Bag

Japan Chocolate

Little People: Coco Chanel

Feminist T-Shirt