Monday 01 April 2019

The British Council, in partnership with the WOW Foundation, UK is delighted to bring WOW - Women of the World festival for the first time ever to Dhaka on 5 and 6 April 2019 at the Bangla Academy premises.

To mark the launch of the festival, a press conference was held today at the British Council auditorium. Key attendees included Andrew Newton, Deputy Director, British Council; Nahin Idris, Head of Arts, British Council; Shagufe Hossain, Founder, Leaping Boundaries; and Tasaffy Hossain, Curator, Founder, Bonhishikha Unlearn Gender, who presented an overview of various aspects of the WOW festival.

WOW is an international festival that celebrates the achievements of women and girls, while also focusing on sharing experiences and approaches to tackle continuing inequalities and discrimination faced by them in society. The festival is an inclusive platform for engaging people from all walks of life, both as speakers and audience members, and providing the inspiration and tools to help make a positive change in the area of gender equality.

Commenting on the significance of the festival in advancing gender equality, Andrew Newton, Deputy Director, British Council said, “The WOW festival is a crucial platform in advancing our work on women and girls’ empowerment under our Arts programme portfolio in South Asia. At the British Council we believe that achieving gender equality is crucial in creating an inclusive, open and prosperous society, and the advancing of sustainable development goals, in particular SDG 5 - Gender Equality and Women’s Empowerment. The festival is an engaging and impactful way of strengthening cultural understanding by sharing practices and experiences from the UK yet grounding them in the local context. It advocates to create access and opportunity for women and girls around the world and build their skills and confidence to achieve their potential and have more influence over decisions that positively impact their lives.”

Emphasising the ambition of WOW Dhaka, Nahin Idris, Head of Arts, British Council, added, “Through the all-inclusive national platform of WOW Dhaka, we hope to shine a spotlight on the city and the incredible people that live and work here, as well as showcase visiting speakers, performers, panellists and inspiring women from all corners of society. We plan to reach everyone through a spirited and far-reaching celebration of women and girls’ achievements, and by encouraging the sharing of women’s stories to explore the obstacles that prevent them from achieving their full potential.”

The WOW platform helps raise awareness on gender related issues and highlights stories of success as well as the struggle of women and girls from all walks of life. WOW involves aspiring local women leaders to design and deliver the festival in a way that allows them to produce an international festival with local flavours.

At the WOW Dhaka festival, people will engage in cross-cultural dialogue with an aim of collective problem-solving and finding creative solutions to their everyday life. Panel discussions will focus on issues such as social norms, violence against women, men and masculinity, and feminism. Various workshops have been designed to help participants understand the reality of women, from different backgrounds, facing hindrances and obstacles on their path to progress.

Moreover, there will be parallel sessions of short talks, stories and performances on over 20 themes, delivered by diverse groups of women. Participants can also enjoy a rare opportunity of one-to-one mentoring sessions delivered by experts from across many fields. The festival will also feature a vibrant marketplace of carefully selected stalls to help support local women entrepreneurs and raise awareness on gender issues. In addition, curated exhibitions, film-screenings, performance arts and a full-fledged theatre production also await the festival visitors. WOW is the largest women’s festival in the world. It started in London in 2010, is now a global festival expanding across five continents. Over one and a half million women are part of the ever-growing WOW movement, where men and boys are also a part as the entire society benefits from a gender-equal world. WOW festivals are presented by arrangement with Southbank Centre.

Last year, the British Council in Bangladesh initiated a series of events as WOW Chapters in Rangpur, Sylhet, Khulna, Rajshahi and Chattogram. Energised by the success of WOW Chapters in five divisional cities across Bangladesh, which saw the enthusiastic participation of 25,000 people, WOW Dhaka 2019 promises to be a spirited and far-reaching celebration of the achievements and obstacles facing girls and women in South Asia. WOW Dhaka 2019 is open for all. In order to make a faster entrance in the festival, it is recommended to register online before the event.

For more information and registration please visit this link:

Notes to Editor

Women of the World (WOW) Festival was launched by the then Southbank Centre Artistic Director Jude Kelly CBE in 2010, the centenary of International Women's Day. It has since grown into the largest women's festival network in the world, involving over a million people across five continents. Over the last five years, WOW has presented among many others, Nobel Peace Prizewinning Malala Yousafzai, Salma Hayek Pinault, Alice Walker, Vivienne Westwood, Christine Lagarde, former British Prime Minister Gordon Brown MP, Annie Lennox, Ruby Wax, Patrick Stewart, Sinead O'Connor, Jessye Norman, Julie Walters, Naomi Wolf, Nawal El Sadaawi, Cherie Blair, Kiran Bedi, Baroness Helena Kennedy QC and many women who don’t have public profiles but have done extraordinary things. The WOW movement is growing and is now in over 20 cities across five continents including New York and Baltimore in the USA, Finland, Karachi in Pakistan, and across the UK and Australia and in Hargeysa, Somaliland.

About the British Council

The British Council is the UK’s international organisation for cultural relations and educational opportunities. We work with over 100 countries in the fields of arts and culture, English language, education and civil society. Last year we reached over 65 million people directly and 731 million people overall including online, broadcasts and publications. We make a positive contribution to the countries we work with – changing lives by creating opportunities, building connections and engendering trust.