First speakers announced for WOW London 2023

30 Nov 2022

Blog Post

We are so excited to have announced the first guests for our iconic Day Pass at WOW London 2023!

From 10-12 March, the 13th London edition of the world’s biggest, most comprehensive festival celebrating women, girls and non-binary people will be back with three days of laughter, joy, discussion, world-class speakers, artists and activists. The programme will include Julia Gillard, Kathy Burke, Elif Shafak, Shani Dhanda, Sali Hughes, Mary Robinson, Megan Barton Hanson, Shobna Gulati and Stephanie Yeboah and many more incredible speakers from around the world.

You can buy a ticket for one or all of the days, as each will feature a totally different line-up.

Across the weekend there’ll be WOWBig Ideas on all three Day Pass days. These are Big Ideas to change the world, with everything from Milk Honey Bees founder, Ebinehita Iyere on Black Girlhood; writer Alice Sherwood on what she’s learnt from conwomen; and actress Shobna Gulati who will perform a moving reading from her book, Remember me?

Here's a look at what each day will include and the topics we'll be discussing.

Friday 10 March

WOW Founder Jude Kelly CBE will open the Festival with a powerful session on women, misogyny and power with Australia’s first female Prime Minister, Julia Gillard, activist and author Laura Bates, best selling author Elif Shafak and activist Josephine Kamara.

Award-winning speaker and activist Shani Dhanda will discuss what the cost of living crisis really means for women and disabled people who are already disproportionately affected by poverty. And elsewhere WOW has frank conversations about misogyny at the highest levels of business, and glass ceilings and working cultures. Despite massive ‘diversity pushes’ and calls for better representation, only nine of the 100 FTSE companies listed in the UK have women CEOs.

In a light-hearted panel we'll be asking are fillers anti-feminist, or can you be feminist and get the odd tweakment? In another part of the building, Good Fatty / Bad Fatty invites fat activists Dr Charlotte Cooper, Stephanie Yeboah and Phoebe Patey-Ferguson to explore the intersections of fat identity that are too often left out of conversations on fatness.

Health plays a central role at WOW 2023 and on Friday gendered diagnostic methods will be explored in a session with psychologists Sanah Ahsan, Lucy Johnstone and Gilli Watson about how trauma can inform our medical outcomes.

Later in the day miscarriages and baby loss burnout will be discussed in a supportive session with award winning journalist Jennie Agg and Miranda Ward, debut author of Adrift - about her own experiences with pregnancy loss. Other talks with line ups to be announced will cover everything from leadership to stories of global resistance and the ‘feminism problem’ with some of the industry’s most respected speakers including Shahed Ezaydi, author of The Othered Woman: How White Feminism Harms Muslim Women

The building will be alive with pop ups and performances, from double dutch skipping to Krav Maga and more and there’ll be a meeting point for festival goers who’d like to meet other attendees to go to sessions with.

Saturday 11 March

On Saturday there will be a huge range of timely topics from the history of Bengali activism in the UK with academics, Fatima Rajina and Shabna Begum, and activists Farzana Khan and Raisa Hassan who will open the session with a beautiful poetry performance; through to an an interactive workshop on our Right to Rage and a sharing space with Homegirls Unite to explore and celebrate life as an eldest daughter.

Author of All the places I’ve ever lived in, Kieran Yates and award winning journalist Charlie Brinkhurst-Cuff come to WOW for a session on how to radically reimagine ideas of home in a frank and lively discussion on housing.

There’ll be pressing political conversations on making the case for free childcare as childcare costs rocket in the UK and an urgent conversation on Climate with former Irish President, Mary Robinson and activist Pat Mitchell.

There will be an exploration into women's obsession with true crime and the factors behind the addictive viewing in Murder is Girl Talk: Why women love true crime.

With 8 million women in the UK experiencing hair loss, WOW brings together speakers who have experienced hair loss including Gina Atinuke Knight.

Sex Talks Founder, Emma-Louise Boynton joins us for an unmissable discussion on shifting sexual desires and the future of sex with guests to be announced.

English actress, comedian, writer, producer, and director Kathy Burke joins WOW for the first time ever, in conversation with WOW’s Founder Jude Kelly about her highly individual fascinating life and career.

A variety of pop-ups and performances throughout Saturday's programme will explore everything from speedcubing to Goal Diggers, a non-ability woman and non-binary football club in London.

Sunday 12 March

Sunday at WOW explores women’s history, how kindness can change your life with Shahroo Izadi before finishing up with a special session with WOW Founder Jude Kelly and guests to bring the day to a close.

Journalist and broadcaster Sali Hughes will be in conversation about her new book ‘Everything is Washable’ - with advice on everything from cutting your own fringe to splitting finances with your partner. Expect tips and insight on the big and the small - and everything in between.

RAW in WAR (Reach All Women in War) will return to the festival for the ninth year as part of the Day Pass. To mark the anniversary of Anna Politkovskaya’s murder on 7 October 2006, and to honour Anna and other women like her in the world, RAW in WAR annually presents the Anna Politkovskaya Award to female human rights defenders from conflict zones who, like Anna, stand up for the victims of conflict, often at great personal risk. This year the award will be presented at WOW by Founder Mariana Katzarova to Tetiana Sokolova, a courageous midwife from Mariupol in Eastern Ukraine, and Svetlana Gannushkina, a human rights activist from Russia who uses her platform to speak out about the war in Ukraine.

There will be a session on deep fakes and revenge porn with award-winning journalist Jenni Savin who brings experts working in the world of deepfakes to talk about weaponized misinformation in a world where anyone can pay a bot to alter a happy holiday snap into a nude.

Writer and broadcaster Octavia Bright joins a range of speakers still to be announced to speak out about addiction and recovery and the recognition of associated trauma.