On 11 October (International Day of the Girl) we launched our inaugural WOW Girls Festival on London’s South Bank. Working with global partners, this festival - which will culminate on International Women’s Day 2024 - will be a force for change across society in how it sees girls, their potential and the opportunities it offers for their future, both in the UK and overseas.
Her Majesty The Queen, President of The WOW Foundation said, “Today, on the International Day of the Girl, I am delighted that WOW is launching its first Girls Festival aboard the WOW Bus, to celebrate girls throughout the world and to do all that we can to promote their potential and nurture their opportunities.
As the proud President of WOW, I know that girls have always been at the heart of everything that you do. I am sure that this festival will equip young people across the United Kingdom with resilience, confidence and self-belief – and that you will have lots of fun along the way!
I am much looking forward to stepping onto the bus myself as soon as I can...”
As part of the celebrations we unveiled the brand-new WOW Girls Festival Bus, an interactive space created with and for young people and hosted workshops for groups of primary school students and community groups from across Lambeth.
From its starting point in London, the Bus will take workshops and activities to all corners of the UK, reaching young people from all backgrounds in the heart of their own communities. On Thursday 12 October the Bus travelled to Gravesend, Kent, welcoming local schools and community groups for workshops and drop-in sessions, in partnership with Gravesham Borough Council. On Friday 13 October, in partnership with Milk Honey Bees, the Bus visited Lambeth schools before parking up in Windrush Square in Brixton for sessions focused on Black and Mixed Black Girls, in celebration of Black History Month's 2023 theme: Saluting Our Sisters. Further tour stops include Glasgow, North Wales, Liverpool, Norfolk, Belfast, Bradford, Manchester and many more, where the Bus will host Speed Mentoring, panel talks and discussions, offering visitors a creative exploration of gender equality through play, reading, digital experiences and a recording studio. With a focus on girls, but including all young people, activities from the Bus are designed to build resilience, wellbeing and good mental health.
Above the River Thames, 150 inspiring women and 150 secondary school students came together on the lastminute.com London Eye for a mass mentoring event, whilst live talks for guests were hosted at the National Theatre. WOW’s annual speed mentoring event on the lastminute.com London Eye offered young people aged 13-19, from 30+ schools and community groups, the unique opportunity to meet 150 highly influential and inspiring women and non-binary people including award-winning poet Joelle Taylor, author Ify Adenuga, author and activist Charlie Craggs, novelist, journalist and broadcaster Elizabeth Day, author and founder of the Everyday Sexism Project Laura Bates, Founder of Own ItCrystal Mahey-Morgan, composer, producer and multi-instrumentalist Bishi, award-winning journalist, public speaker and author Poorna Bell and Barbie 2023 Role Model Dr Maggie Aderin-Pocock. Each student was matched with several different mentors for 15-minute sessions during which they shared their dreams and ambitions during two complete rotations of the lastminute.com London Eye. They then had a talk at the National Theatre with Jude Kelly, Dr Maggie Aderin-Pocock and Standard Chartered's Tracey McDermott.
We've also released four inspiring WOW Activity Packs for schools and community leaders to use. They have been co-designed with and for young people to link to the national curriculum and offer creative activities and thought-provoking stimuli to bring the topics of mental health, personal safety, relationships, community and finance to life.
The WOW Girls Festival is supported by BBC Children in Need and in partnership with WOW UK Girls Champion Barbie who are extending the tour to reach primary aged children, and WOW Global Girls Champion, Standard Chartered Bank, who are supporting the Girls Festival’s international reach.
The WOW Girls Festival Bus is funded through a partnership between The WOW Foundation and BBC Children in Need and the tour is supported by Arts Council England.