WOW – Women of the World is an international festival that celebrates women and girls, and look at the obstacles that stop them from achieving their potential. The British Council, as the UK’s cultural relation organisation, has a history of delivering international festivals around the globe and adapting them to the local context. In this regard, the British Council brings in an international programme in Bangladesh, and it started with the citizens of Chittagong at the Public Library as the people outside Dhaka rarely get the opportunity to such international events. The programme was open to the public from all background that includes - women, youth, and people from urban and semi-urban areas in Chittagong. 

The WOW Dhaka: Chittagong Chapter. The initiative is part of the British Council and Southbank Centre’s commitment to diversity and inclusion and in particular to the women in South Asia who go from strength to strength in overcoming odds in their daily lives, politics, education and creative disciplines. A series of events and activities all over Bangladesh for next two years will lead up to WOW Dhaka in 2019. As a part of that initiative, the first event, Chittagong Chapter of WOW Dhaka was organised jointly by the British Council, South Bank Centre, Bonhishikha and SPaRC at Chittagong on the 12 December 2017. 

The programme brought together people from all over Chittagong that includes community leaders, activist, entrepreneurs, students, media personals and semi-urban representation to have a conversation around societal and cultural challenges, taboos and stereotypes.  The event consisted of speed mentoring, panel discussions, performances, inspirational talks and many more, highlighting the particular challenges facing the women of Bangladesh. Topics covered include tech for women, legal support, health, leadership, and how to support young Bangladeshi people as empowered individuals.

Ashish Kumar Sarker, Director General, Department of Public Libraries Additional Secretary, Ministry of Cultural Affairs, Barbara Wickham, Director Bangladesh, British Council and Domino Pateman, Senior Programmer, WOW - Women of the World attended the Chittagong Chapter of the globally observed event. 

Barbara said, ‘Women are more empowered now than ever before. However, there is still much to be done to ensure equal rights of the genders at all levels, everywhere. WOW is an excellent initiative to attain that objective, and we are delighted to be associated with it.’