Now going into its 10th year, the annual WOW Festival returns to the
Southbank Centre on 6-8 March 2020, coinciding with International Women’s
The festival is known for boasting an impressive line-up of influential female speakers and 2020 is no exception. Headline acts include the annual #March4Women Rally introduced by Helen Pankhurst, a celebration of the late author Toni Morrison, a live episode of The Guilty Feminist podcast and an all-female cast performing Letters Live, plus some very special celebrations to mark the 10th anniversary of International Women’s Day.
Here are our Women of the World 2020 highlights…
Toni Morrison: a celebration
Queen Elizabeth Hall | 8 March, 2pm
her debut, The Bluest Eye (1970), the late Toni Morrison depicted an
11-year-old black girl’s mental disintegration, while asking vital
questions about race, gender and class that are more relevant today than
ever. This event is a chance to hear contemporary writers pay homage to
Morrison, 50 years on from the publication of The Bluest Eye and seven
months after her death. Through performances, readings and tributes from
special guests, this event is a joyful response to the life, influence
and legacy of the Nobel Prize winner.
British Vogue’s Forces for Change
Queen Elizabeth Hall | 7 March, 6pm
Hear from British Vogue’s editor-in-chief Edward Enninful and a slew of special guests as they present a live discussion based on the publication’s hugely popular September 2019 issue: Forces for Change. The issue profiled 15 women with 15 unique causes and was guest edited by Meghan Markle. Expect stories of female trailblazers setting the agenda across the globe.
#March4Women Rally at WOW
Royal Festival Hall | 8 March, 12pm
Stand in solidarity with women and girls around the world as CARE International’s annual #March4Women rally joins forces with WOW. Helen Pankhurst, the great-granddaughter of Emmeline Pankhurst and CARE International UK’s special adviser, is introducing the discussion, which will be an urgent call to action for women on the front line of the climate crisis.
The Guilty Feminist at WOW
Royal Festival Hall | 7 March, 7:30pm
Ever felt that you should be a better feminist? If the answer is yes, then you’ll be happy to hear that Deborah Frances-White has too: once, she went to a women’s rights march, popped into the toilet at a department store and got distracted trying out face cream – and when she came out again, the march was gone. Instances like these make up the podcast The Guilty Feminist, where Frances-White and her guests discuss topics that ‘all feminists agree on’, while confessing the paradoxes and insecurities that undermine their principles. The podcast has been downloaded over 70 million times since 2016 – so check out what the hype is about and join Frances-White and her special guests live.
Cost: £18 - £38
Scarlett Curtis: Feminists Don’t Wear Pink live
Queen Elizabeth Hall | 6 March, 9pm
In this evening of fun, frank and honest conversation, you’ll hear from journalist and activist Scarlett Curtis along with special guests as they discuss what feminism means to them. Curtis is the author of Sunday Times bestseller Feminists Don't Wear Pink (and other lies), a collection of essays by 52 inspiring women on what the ‘F’ word means to them.
Caroline Criado Perez - Invisible Women
Queen Elizabeth Hall | 6 March, 7-8pm
In her book Invisible Women, author Caroline Criado Perez – the woman behind the successful campaigns which have seen women put on Bank of
England notes and a statue of suffragist Millicent Fawcett erected in
Parliament Square – explores all the ways in which the world is not designed for women. From the prescription drugs that are for a larger body to the phone that’s too big for your hand, join Criado Perez as she reveals the ways in which the world is built for men, by men.
Emma Dabiri: Don't Touch My Hair
Purcell Room | 7 March, 8:30pm
Join critically acclaimed writer and broadcaster Emma Dabiri as she explores why black hair is never ‘just hair’, following her groundbreaking book, Don’t Touch My Hair. From pre-colonial Africa to today's cultural appropriation wars, Emma explores why black hair styling culture can be understood as an allegory for black oppression and ultimately liberation.
Bobby Baker: Drawing on a (Grand) Mother's Experience
Purcell Room | 8 March, 2:30pm & 7:30pm
Artist Bobby Baker returns to the WOW festival to revive Drawing on a (Grand) Mother’s Experience, her exploration of trying to ‘have it all’. In 2015, WOW founder Jude Kelly invited Baker to re-stage her seminal 1988 work Drawing on A Mother’s Experience. By then a grandmother, Baker chose to update it, creating Drawing on a (Grand) Mother’s Experience.
Now, the show returns for the 10th anniversary of WOW, allowing Baker the chance to explore the experience of early motherhood from an older and more reflective vantage point on stage.
Letters Live at WOW
Royal Festival Hall | 8 March, 8pm
If you’ve been to a Letters Live event before you’ll know the drill: a surprise cast of celebrities reading historic letters, in what is a celebration of the enduring power of written correspondence. To mark International Women’s Day, a special edition of Letters Live is being held at WOW, featuring an all-female cast. Expect to hear women’s stories brought to life through the charged lens of the personal letter.
Olivia Colman, Benedict Cumberbatch, Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie and Kylie Minogue are among the starry names who have read at previous Letters Live events. But as always, the names of those performing at WOW will be strictly guarded until the curtain goes up.
Cost: £18 - £50
The Beauty Myth: 30 Years On
Queen Elizabeth Hall | 8 March, 7:30PM
The Beauty Myth became one of the most talked-about feminist books of the 20th century on its publication in 1990. It was a revolutionary text at the time: both an exposé on the beauty and advertising industries, and an investigation into how images of women are used against us. Thirty years on and its author Naomi Wolf is speaking at WOW, discussing how the landscape has shifted in the last three decades, whether the ‘cultural conspiracy’ against women is still in play, and how much of this applies to Generation Z. Wolf is being joined on the WOW stage by freelance writer, public speaker and fat acceptance advocate Stephanie Yeboah; and scholar and transgendered activist Levi Hord.
How the Hell Did I Get Here? With Sandi Toksvig
Royal Festival Hall | 8 March, 5PM
Join writer, comedian and activist Sandi Toksvig as she interviews her personal and professional heroes – including Lennie Goodings, Pat Mitchell and Dr. Maggie Aderin-Pocock – about how they defeated the odds to climb to the top. Featuring plenty of chances for audience participation, the event is a chance to hear from Toksvig as well as her special guests, learning how they got where they are today and what obstacles they've had to overcome in order to succeed.
Cost: £18 - £38
Under-10s Feminist Corner
Foyle Pavilion | 7 March, various times
In the Under 10s Feminist Corner, your children can explore what it means for girls and boys to be equal, and discover what life is like for girls across the world. A series of workshops are taking place throughout the two-day festival for both boys and girls. The sessions are for children only, but parents can look on from nearby sofas if they wish.
Among the festival’s many discussions, workshops and performances, which will cover diverse topics including finances, sex, global feminism and climate change, the intent of the event remains the same: to explore the state of gender equality across the globe and tackle the most talked-about issues facing women and girls today.
|What||Women of the World, Southbank Centre|
|Where||Southbank Centre, Belvedere Road, London, SE1 8XX | MAP|
|Nearest tube||Embankment (underground)|
06 Mar 20 – 08 Mar 20, Times vary for specific events
|Price||£depends on event|
|Website||Click here to book via the Southbank Centre website|