December 2017 saw the first divisional WOW chapter in WOW’s global history, WOW Dhaka: Chittagong Chapter. The Chittagong chapter marked the commencement of WOW’s journey in Bangladesh. Following this, a series of WOW chapters was held across Bangladesh, which ultimately leading up to the first national WOW festival in 2019.
In partnership with Southbank Centre in the UK, the British Council organised the Chittagong chapter in collaboration with two local organisations: Bonishikha and Supporting People and Rebuilding Communities (SPaRC).
Bonhishkha is a non-profit organisation that creates a platform where the youth can safely engage in dialogue about gender and sexuality - topics that are considered controversial and taboo in the context of Bangladesh. SPaRC is a women-led organisation that believes in feminism, gender equality, and working to improve the lives and livelihoods of the vulnerable and voiceless.
The Chittagong Chapter brought together women from all over the district and initiated conversations between teachers, community leaders, artists, activists, filmmakers and entrepreneurs. Topics included technology advancement for women, legal support, health, leadership, and how to support young Bangladeshis as empowered individuals. The event also featured a musical performance by the all-female indigenous band, F Minor.
The programme took place at the Divisional Government Public Library and drew a crowd of over 1100 live audience, which included Director (Joint-Secretary) of the Department of Public Library Bangladesh, Abdullah Harun Pasha.