Women Of the World (WOW) Festival took place over the International Women’s Day weekend (5-9th March).
It was a hub of creativity and inspiration, as everybody in attendance was committed and excited to celebrate the incredible achievements of women and girls around the world.
The weekend covered a vast range of topics and hosted an array of amazing guest speakers, with international voices travelling specially to participate.
Currently in their fourth year, WOW has increased in size and impact since every year that it has run.
This year, key speakers included designer Vivienne Westwood, Australian feminist Anne Summers and influential young campaigner Malala Yousafzai.
Tickets to guest speakers sold out prior to the event, so it was worth booking in advance to guarantee a seat at these inspiring talks.
However, all was not lost for those who did not get tickets, the Marketplace was home to various stalls that raised awareness of other important gender issues and showcased new female talent.
Stall holders ranged in content from feminist magazines, female plumbing and various artworks. There were also political stallholders, with some campaigning for change, such as the Stop The Traffik campaign, and others that hoped to raise awareness and create a sense of community through promotion such as the One Billion Rising campaign.
Furthermore, the Marketplace was home to roamers – people were encouraged to interact with one another through various activities. There were stalls to make badges with inspirational messages on them (mine said ‘LOVE YOURSELF’); get your nails painted with iconic feminist prints; have your hair tied into an African wrap and many more.
Other events included various showings of gender-related films, such as Miss Representation, and my favourite was a Beyoncé Dance Class to empower women and encourage them to enjoy the act of dancing for themselves – with the class appropriately inspired by her new song ‘Run The World (Girls)’.
The event offered a great source of inspiration to many and acted as a common ground for many to communicate about the issues that they were impassioned by and share their ideas.
2013 saw many changes for women around the world, however, the festival was a reminder that there is still a long way to go to obtain complete gender equality.
The important thing is that people are gathering in a designated space and talking about change for women, and so long as this happens, there will always be an alternative to the gender stereotype that is frequently seen in mainstream media.
For more info, visit: http://www.southbankcentre.co.uk/women-of-the-world