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.

all stories

Relive five fantastic days of WOW through the eyes of those who joined us
Watch Patrisse Khan-Cullors, Laura Bates and Dr Shola Mos-Shogbamimu in discussion, in this video from WOW 2018
Listen to award-winning author Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie in this great podcast from WOW 2018
Ruby Wax in conversation about her new book, How to Be Human: The Manual
Speakers including MPs Jo Swinson, Anna Soubry, Sophie Walker and Tulip Siddiq share their experiences
Hear from leading women in the creative industries creating change including Vanessa Kingori, Publishing Director at Vogue UK
The best-selling writer and essayist discusses finding her place in feminism, intersectionality and grappling with pop culture
Scroll through our interactive timeline of key moments in the fight for women’s rights and gender equality in Britain.
Ahead of her appearance at WOW - Women of the World, read our interview with the acclaimed activist and author.
Discover our most inclusive programme to date, with a look ahead to WOW 2018
Key change-makers and activists from our WOW festival share their tips
The Professor of Cognitive Neuroimaging at Aston University looks at recurring misogyny in neuroscience research
Children's television presenter Lauren Layfield on what you ought to know about being a girl today
After 12 years at the helm, Jude moves on to focus on the development of WOW - Women of the World
A century on from British women winning the right to vote, we celebrate those who continue to make great strides made in gender equality
WE: A Manifesto for Women Everywhere
Listen to audio highlights of Southbank Centre's WOW – Women of the World festival 2017
How do we fight sexism without ignoring other issues such as race, disability, sexuality and class?
Hear insights from the journalist and Channel 4 News reporter
The presenter talks about her book OPEN: A Toolkit for How Magic Messed Up Life Can Be


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


  • 7 - 11 March: WOW London
  • 6 - 8 April: WOW; Celebrating the Women of the Commonwealth
  • 27 - 29 April: WOW Norwich
  • 27 - 29 April: WOW Baltimore

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

Je Suis Feministe Tote Bag

Frida Kahlo Little People

Advantages of Being A Woman Artist Teatowel

Afro Supa Sista Mug