1 Dec 2022

Press Release

PRESS RELEASE – 1 December 2022



WOW - Women of the World has today announced the first guests for its 2023 London Festival, which returns to the Southbank Centre to mark International Women’s Day, supported by The WOW Foundation’s Global Founding Partner, Bloomberg. 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, Megan Barton-Hanson, Shobna Gulati, Stephanie Yeboah and WOW Founder Jude Kelly.

WOW have announced the day pass programme for Friday, Saturday and Sunday. Each day features a different line-up, offering audiences the chance to choose from dozens of events in multiple spaces and venues. Panels will be diverse and fresh, ranging from conversations about true crime and deepfakes to baby loss and a history of Bengali activism. There will be female friendship, the future of sex, fillers, fat activism as well as conversations around hair loss, accessable spaces, burnout and addiction. WOW will talk about the climate emergency, housing, childcare, financial crisis and misogyny in 2023. It will ask how we can all work together to create change, and invite audiences to join workshops on the right to rage and radical self care.

A programme of ticketed evening events and WOW Presents… digital events will be announced in the coming months. The festival will feature the much-loved WOW Marketplace, a programme of free WOW Pop Up performances, free WOW Speed Mentoring and Under 10’s Feminist Corner for budding young feminists everywhere.


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 discusses 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 session featuring columnist, podcaster and TV personality Megan Barton-Hanson and other speakers to be announced, we ask if fillers are 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.


On Saturday there is 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 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.

There will also be a separately ticketed children’s event on Saturday - Joyful, Joyful: Celebrating Black Voices. In this fun and interactive event, Dapo Adeola – the illustrator who has inspired little girls all over the world to dress up as his character, Rocket, from the children’s book, Look Up! – will be joined by writers Hannah Lee and Maame Blue for a chance to enjoy readings and live drawing by this much-loved trio.


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.

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?

On Sunday, there will be two exciting new children’s events featuring award winning authors and illustrators. Tolá Okogwu brings Onyeka and the Academy of the Sun to life - Onyenka is a dazzling superhero story starring a British-Nigerian girl who learns that her Afro hair has psychokinetic powers. Emma Carroll & Lauren Child come to WOW with Little Match Girl - their reworked the Hans Christian Andersen with a new feminist twist. Both are separately ticketed events.


Run by UK charity The WOW Foundation, 2023 will be the 13th WOW London Festival. In 2018, WOW Founder Jude Kelly built on the success of the festival to create UK-based charity The WOW Foundation to run the global WOW movement that believes a gender equal world is urgently needed, possible and desirable. Since the inaugural London Festival in 2010, launched by Kelly at the Southbank Centre, WOW and its partners across the world have reached more than three million people in more than 100 festivals and events across six continents.

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

WOW London 2023

10 – 12 March, Southbank Centre

Day passes available for Friday 10th, Saturday 11th and Sunday 12th March

Day Pass price £45

Early Bird price £35 (members pre-sale 9th August / general on sale 10th August).


Download images here.


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 over 3 million people in 30 locations on six continents, in locations including Australia, Brazil, China, Egypt, Finland, Nepal, Nigeria, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, Somaliland, the UK and the USA. In 2018/19 WOW was in Rio de Janeiro, Cardiff, Bradford, Bangladesh, Brisbane, Janakpur (Nepal), Baltimore, London, Exeter, Norwich, Perth, Beijing, Ghana and Nigeria. In June 2020, WOW held its first ever worldwide online festival focused on women and girls — WOW Global 24. The festival travelled around the world everywhere from the UK to Nigeria, and Pakistan to Australia exploring the intersectional impact of COVID-19 on gender inequality, and responding to Black Lives Matter.

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 equality in their own communities. One example of the impact the festival has come 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 equality for women and girls.

WOW festivals and events are presented by arrangement with the Southbank Centre.

The former Duchess of Cornwall was The WOW Foundation’s President.

About Bloomberg

Bloomberg – the global business, financial information and news leader – is a founding supporter of WOW - Women of the World Festivals. Bloomberg has long supported organisations and causes that advance gender equality and seek to address challenges women face around the world, from maternal and reproductive health to women’s economic empowerment and inspiring the new generation of female leaders. Bloomberg has proudly supported WOW Festivals since 2012 www.bloomberg.com/women

About the Southbank Centre

The Southbank Centre is the UK’s largest arts centre occupying a prominent riverside location that sits in the midst of London’s most vibrant cultural quarter on the South Bank of the Thames. We exist to present great cultural experiences that bring people together and we achieve this by providing the space for artists to create and present their best work and by creating a place where as many people as possible can come together to experience bold, unusual and eye-opening work. We want to take people out of the everyday, every day. The site has an extraordinary creative and architectural history stretching back to the 1951 Festival of Britain. The Southbank Centre is made up of the Royal Festival Hall, Queen Elizabeth Hall, Purcell Room and Hayward Gallery as well as being home to the National Poetry Library and the Arts Council Collection. It is also home to six Resident Orchestras (Aurora Orchestra, Chineke! Orchestra, London Philharmonic Orchestra, London Sinfonietta, Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment and Philharmonia Orchestra).