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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Tue, 03/21/2017 - 10:33
Listen to audio highlights of Southbank Centre's WOW – Women of the World festival 2017
Fri, 03/10/2017 - 18:05
Gender Politics & Equality
Global Culture & Ethnicity
Award-winning journalist and black feminist Reni writes about class, race, gender and social justice
Fri, 03/10/2017 - 14:34
Two of our Nordic artists and speakers share their thoughts on women’s lives in the Nordic region today
Thu, 03/09/2017 - 12:30
Gender Politics & Equality
Talks & Topics
Read how the Swedish mansplaining hotline caused a domestic stir
Wed, 03/08/2017 - 18:53
Gender Politics & Equality
Global Culture & Ethnicity
The American civil rights advocate and leading scholar shares a few words
Wed, 03/08/2017 - 18:42
Gender Politics & Equality
Politics & History
Will Brexit be good for women, or do they risk losing hard-won rights?
Wed, 03/08/2017 - 16:22
Gender Politics & Equality
Global Culture & Ethnicity
We asked Fatima about the challenges women face, and their hopes for the future
Mon, 03/06/2017 - 17:16
Business & Economics
Gender Politics & Equality
Hear from Melanie Eusebe, founder of the Black British Business Award and executive producer of WOW
Fri, 03/03/2017 - 14:33
Gender Politics & Equality
Talks & Topics
CII's report will be explored in Women's Risks in Life by empowering women to make friends with their future selves
Fri, 03/03/2017 - 11:08
Gender Politics & Equality
Talks & Topics
Read about UBS Unique's initiatives for improving women's lives
Thu, 03/02/2017 - 14:58
Children & Young people
Gender Politics & Equality
See a few top picks for WOW festival 2017 chosen by Southbank Centre’s Youth Ambassadors
Wed, 02/15/2017 - 16:26
Who are the women who represent us in Parliament? What does it take to get elected, and then to hold onto a place in the House?
Wed, 02/15/2017 - 15:20
What does it really take for women to be heard in the workplace? We asked voice coach and RADA in Business tutor, Sheelagh McNamara
Wed, 02/08/2017 - 14:53
Hear disability justice activist Lydia X. Z. Brown discuss how justice for women can become justice for everyone
Mon, 02/06/2017 - 10:31
Hear about some of the things you can look forward to at WOW – Women of the World festival, returning Tuesday 7 – Sunday 12 March
Thu, 08/18/2016 - 16:50
Many age-old ideas about women have been swept aside - but what does that have to do with men?
Thu, 08/18/2016 - 16:50
Thu, 08/18/2016 - 16:50
Caitlin Moran talks about new book, Moranifesto
Thu, 08/18/2016 - 16:50
Kimberlé Crenshaw - tells us what 'intersectionality' is
Thu, 08/18/2016 - 16:50
For the first time in history, all five UK and NI poet laureates are women



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

Somaliland Bag

Japan Chocolate

Little People: Coco Chanel

Feminist T-Shirt