I must say that when I first heard about Southbank Centre’s WOW Women of the World Festival (7-11 March 2012) I did not expect it to be either very groundbreaking nor very feminist. How wrong I was. It was a weekend packed with an amazing range of diverse speakers, from prominent public figures to what I have no doubt will be the next generation of feminist campaigners.
The all-encompassing programme, which was incredibly well organised and encouraged lively debate, included a broad range of topics, which were all very relevant in today’s society. More than that, the speakers and audience members genuinely cared for change to happen. There was a lovely, collaborative atmosphere, women and men of all ages sharing sometimes quite personal stories.
The conference, which had only started this time last year on the occasion of the 100th anniversay of International Women’s Day, attracted thousands of people over a long weekend. It included a WOW market, speed mentoring, an art project called ‘Phenomenal People’ and plenty of space for open debate. Sessions which I thought were particularly fascinating and moving were one on violence, one on being childless/childfree and one about the Arab Spring.
Apparently WOW has already got a sister festival in Baltimore as of this year and is going to expand into even more countries, such as Iceland and Australia in the years to come. From what I’ve experienced this year I wouldn’t be surprised if the sell-out event will continue to grow even further. It was an intense weekend, which left me partly thrilled to have met so many others who share my own values, partly anxious to keep pushing for equality in all areas of society. No matter what.