Angela Davis joins huge roster of women’s rights speakers at 24-hour online WOW Festival
This weekend saw the first ever online Women of the World (WOW) Global 24 Festival stream live for 24 hours. The day-long livestream was the largest ever online gathering dedicated to women and girls. Having run since 2010, staging 65 festivals across the world and reaching millions of people, the WOW Foundation saw the pandemic – which has coincided with its tenth anniversary – as an opportunity to expand the festivals’ reach even further. What resulted was a marathon of events, talks, and music, all around issues of women’s rights.
The festival ran on two platforms: a “Global” lineup running throughout the 24 hours, and a back-to-back series of ten “Local” streams, featuring speakers and subjects tailored to specific regions. Split into six strands – Education, Justice, Climate, Health, The Economy and Violence – the Global festival gathered a sky full of stars of the women’s rights scene, including UN Undersecretary-General Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka, the Duchess of Cornwall (the president of WOW), 2015 Nobel Prize winner Svetlana Alexievich, and British trans model and activist Monroe Bergdorf. The impressively broad lineup included sessions on changing the narrative around climate change, finding an economic system that works for women, and gender equality in the time of COVID-19.
In a supporting video, Jude Kelly, WOW’s founder, explained the mission of the festivals: “I just thought: How about celebrating everything that girls and women have achieved, and that will give us the courage and stamina to call out what needs to be done. I wanted girls and women to tell their own story from their own perspective, to have this platform that’s non-judgmental, that’s completely inclusive.”
The response to the festival was overwhelmingly positive, with users on Twitter calling it “inspiring and empowering”, “incredible”, and “well worth tuning in.” One Tweeter said: “I’ve been up for 17 hours watching […] The last 17 hours have been amazing and I have learned so much! I have so many questions and ideas to sit with and build on.”
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Photo: Angela Davis