WOW Women of the World 2019
WOW Madhesh, Nepal, 2019

In partnership with The WOW Foundation, British Council Arts celebrated International Women’s Day through a series of WOW – Women of the World Festival events in Turkey, Nepal, Pakistan and Bangladesh.

Amid the many challenges of the pandemic, WOW has found new ways to unite women and girls across the world and make sure their voices remain at the top of the cultural agenda. 

WOW Festivals include talks, performances, workshops, marketplaces, interactive activities, music, comedy, films and more. Most importantly, WOW is for everyone, and brings together people from all corners of society with the inspiration and tools to make change.

Between 1st – 8th March, over 300,000 people viewed online WOW content, increasing to 815,000 views through on demand videos after the Festivals. In Bangladesh, WOW activity was delivered face to face, across the divisional cities of Khulna, Barishal, Mymensingh, Chattogram, Rajshahi and Rangpur; spanning the breadth of the country. 

This year’s activity involved over 300 artists, cultural organisations, policy makers and academicians from the UK, South Asia and Wider Europe. WOW Festivals highlight theimpact of women creatives in initiating new collaborations to address women’s issues. The events take inspiration from the power of the arts to create new ways of seeing the world and inclusive forums for reflection and dialogue.

In Turkey, we hosted the first WOW Istanbul, with audiences hearing from leading voices on gender equality in Turkey and the UK, including comedian and creator of The Guilty Feminist, Deborah Frances White alongside a diverse music and performance programme curated by MAYK, Selector Radio and Serious Music in the UK. In South Asia, we were delighted to welcome Malala Yousafzai to speak at WOW Pakistan.

Watch highlights from WOW Pakistan and WOW Istanbul

Nobel Peace Prize winner, Malala Yousafzai in conversation with British Council CEO Kate Ewart-Biggs and Dr Maliha Khan from the Malala Fund, as part of WOW Pakistan.

WOW Istanbul presents British-Bahraini trumpet player Yazz Ahmed who is joined by kemane (kamancha) player Melisa Yıldırım. Curated by Serious Music.

WOW Istanbul

Taking inspiration from this global city of 15 million people, the very first WOW Festival in Istanbul festival gave voice to the women making up half of the city’s inhabitants, as well as women from all over Turkey.

The programme featured leading voices on gender equality in Turkey and the UK, including comedian and creator of The Guilty Feminist Deborah Frances White, leader of the UK Women’s Equality Party Mandu Reid, and leading Turkish activist Canan Güllü.

Through WOW Sounds and WOW Performances, we commissioned new work through MAYK and Serious Music.

Catch up on content through British Council Turkey YouTube and via #WOWISTNBL

WOW Pakistan

WOW returned to Pakistan for a fourth edition, including for the first time a programme of online events featuring Nobel Peace Prize winner Malala Yousafzai and Pakistani politician Senator Sherry Rehman, as well as performances from Meesha Shafi.

Catch up on content on WOW Pakistan's Instagram, or search #wowpk21

WOW Nepal

WOW Nepal celebrated the full diversity of this wonderful country. Catch up on content through British Council Nepal's Facebook Page and via #WOWNepal. Through a week of activities, WOW activity strengthened UK-Nepal creative collaborations, including workshops on comedy, fashion, music and poetry, alongside talks from leading women in media, politics and advocacy.

WOW Bangladesh

Across different weeks (Feb 11 – 12 March), WOW events took place in divisional cities of Khulna, Barishal, Mymensingh, Chattogram, Rajshahi and Rangpur. Through WOW Thinkins, we met extraordinary women, and men, leading and supporting communities to discover stories of survival, resilience and unfair gender norms that will shape WOW festivals in Bangladesh going forward this year.

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