12 Mar 2024

Press Release

IMAGE RELEASE - Tuesday 12 March 2024

Images available to download here.


Today Her Majesty The Queen hosted a reception at Buckingham Palace to celebrate the work of The WOW Foundation and to mark the end of its inaugural WOW Girls Festival, which has visited all four nations of the UK over the past six months. Her Majesty the Queen was met by Jude Kelly CBE, WOW’s Founder and CEO.

Queen Mathilde and The Duchess of Gloucester joined Her Majesty for the event, with the reception attended by approximately 150 guests involved in the WOW Girls Festival tour including young people aged 7 to 20 from schools and youth groups, SC Futuremakers and WOW Young Leaders; and high profile individuals and supporters of WOW.

Guests at the event included Dame Helen Mirren, Mel B, Dr Maggie Aderin-Pocock, Dame Kelly Holmes, Sophia Smith-Galer, Emma Barnett, Laura Bates, Dr Ronx, Doreen Lawrence and Perri Shakes-Drayton. Images can be downloaded here.

To celebrate Her Majesty The Queen’s role as President of The WOW Foundation and the work of the foundation in empowering girls and women, Barbie created a one-of-a-kind Barbie doll in The Queen’s likeness, complete with a WOW badge. The doll was presented to The Queen at the reception.

The WOW Bus is an interactive space, delivering workshops and activities to all corners of the UK and reaching young people from all backgrounds in the heart of their own communities. The interior of the WOW Bus has been adapted to allow groups, individuals and families to take part in activities designed by WOW to creatively explore issues around gender equality, including through play, reading, digital experience, video and a recording studio.

WOW - Women of the World Festival is the biggest and most comprehensive festival celebrating women, girls and non-binary people in the world. Her Majesty The Queen has been involved with the organisation since 2010 and was appointed President in 2015. Run by UK charity The WOW Foundation, the next UK festival takes place in Manchester for the first time, from 24 - 26 May.

The Girls’ Futures Report 2022 found that girls’ confidence dips between the ages of 14 and 18 and does not recover significantly. The 2022 Steer Education report also revealed that girls as young as 11 are hiding signs of “deep distress” from their parents and teachers, with doubts about their futures and limiting self beliefs cementing themselves in teenage years. The WOW Foundation joined forces for the second time with BBC Children in Need (CIN) to launch the WOW Girls Festival tackling some of these issues. Their previous collaboration in 2020, as part of the groundbreaking CIN A Million & Me programme, found that fun, happiness and creative self-expression were particularly important approaches to addressing the identified gaps in the provision of activity to tackle gender difference. WOW has now created WOW Girls Festival shaped from these findings and focusing on better outcomes for girls and all young people.

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.

The WOW Foundation is proudly supported by its Global Founding Partner Bloomberg.

For further information please contact

Skye Redman at Bread & Butter PR on skye@breadandbutterpr.uk or 07951 980 905


About The WOW Foundation
The WOW Foundation was created by Jude Kelly CBE in 2018 to run the global movement that is WOW - Women of the World Festivals. The Festivals began in the UK in 2010, launched by Kelly at the Southbank Centre London, where she was Artistic Director, to celebrate women and girls, taking a frank look at what prevents them from achieving their potential, raising awareness globally of the issues they face, and discussing solutions together.

To date, WOW has reached five million people in 45 locations on six continents, in locations including Australia, Brazil, China, Egypt, Finland, Greece, Nepal, Nigeria, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, Somaliland, the UK and the USA.

Over the last 13 years the Festivals have developed a reputation as a space for world renowned artists, activists, thinkers and performers including Angela Davis, Malala Yousafzai, Annie Lennox, Patrick Stewart, Baroness Doreen Lawrence and Salma Hayek, to come and participate, alongside thousands of women and girls who don’t have public profiles but are doing amazing things. WOW provides platforms for people of all kinds, changes attitudes, brings communities together and provides a unique space for people to work together towards gender equity in their own communities. One example of the Festival’s impact came in 2015, with the founding of the Women’s Equality Party by Sandi Toksvig and Catherine Mayer.

In 2018 Kelly left the Southbank Centre to run The WOW Foundation full time as a charity working to build, convene and sustain a global movement that believes a gender equal world is possible and desirable through festivals and empowering women and girls. The unique festival model creates numerous pathways for participants to take part in WOW projects, amplify their own causes, or start new initiatives which have a wide impact on communities. It is the biggest, most comprehensive and most significant festival dedicated to presenting work by women and promoting equity for women and girls.

WOW Festival was originally produced and presented by Southbank Centre.

The President of WOW - Women of the World is Her Majesty The Queen.

WOW Festivals will be taking place around the world in the next 12 months:

  • WOW Pakistan (Lahore): 1-3 March 2024

  • WOW Istanbul: 1-3 March 2024

  • WOW Athens: 6-8 April 2024

  • WOW Kathmandu: November 2024 tbc

  • WOW Baltimore: April 2025 tbc

About BBC Children in Need

BBC Children in Need believe every child and young person deserves the opportunity to thrive and be the best they can be.

BBC Children in Need’s ambition is to create lasting, positive change across the UK for the children and young people who need it most. Together with the BBC and partners, BBC Children in Need aim to inspire the nation in support of their work.

BBC Children in Need’s 1,700 local charities and projects work tirelessly in every corner of the UK to help children & young people overcome the additional challenges they currently face, including supporting children and young people living in poverty, providing emergency support to families in crisis, providing comfort to children feeling sad, lost and alone, helping children overcome social injustice and supporting children to feel safe and secure again.

Further information on BBC Children in Need can be found at bbcchildreninneed.co.uk

About Standard Chartered

We are a leading international banking group, with a presence in 53 of the world’s most dynamic markets and serving clients in a further 64. Our purpose is to drive commerce and prosperity through our unique diversity, and our heritage and values are expressed in our brand promise, here for good.

Standard Chartered PLC is listed on the London and Hong Kong stock exchanges.

For more stories and expert opinions please visit Insights at sc.com. Follow Standard Chartered on X, LinkedIn, Instagram and Facebook.

About Mattel

Mattel is a leading global toy company and owner of one of the strongest catalogues of children’s and family entertainment franchises in the world. We create innovative products and experiences that inspire, entertain, and develop children through play. We engage consumers through our portfolio of iconic brands, including Barbie®, Hot Wheels®, Fisher-Price®, American Girl®, Thomas & Friends®, UNO®, Masters of the Universe®, Monster High® and MEGA®, as well as other popular intellectual properties that we own or licence in partnership with global entertainment companies. Our offerings include film and television content, gaming and digital experiences, music, and live events. We operate in 35 locations and our products are available in more than 150 countries in collaboration with the world’s leading retail and ecommerce companies. Since its founding in 1945, Mattel is proud to be a trusted partner in empowering children to explore the wonder of childhood and reach their full potential. Visit us online at mattel.com.