Sandi Toksvig and Naomi Wolf join star-studded line-up for feminist festival

Sandi Toksvig and Naomi Wolf join star-studded line-up for feminist festival

Sandi Toksvig, Naomi Wolf and Mary Robinson are among the names in the line-up for the 10th Women of the World (WOW) Festival next year.

The annual event, part of the global movement that celebrates women and girls, will also feature guest appearances by writer and feminist activist Scarlett Curtis and comedian Shazia Mirza next March.

TV presenter and Great British Bake Off star Toksvig will host a talk called How The Hell Did I Get Here? in which she meets her personal and professional heroes to discover how they got to where they are today.

Mary Robinson (Jane Barlow/PA)
Mary Robinson (Jane Barlow/PA)

She will interview women who have beaten the odds to make it to the top, finding out what motivates them, who helps and inspires them, and what obstacles they had to overcome to succeed.

American feminist author Wolf will mark 30 years since the publication of her book The Beauty Myth.

The activist and journalist will appear alongside a panel of guests to explore what has changed since the book – considered one of the most prominent feminist works of the 20th century – was released, how the landscape has shifted, whether the “cultural conspiracy” against women is still at play, and what does and does not apply to Generation Z.

We’ll look, no doubt, at the impact women have made in regards to the issues raised then, and shine a light on what still needs to be addressed

Former president of Ireland and humanitarian activist Robinson will be one of the speakers at the panel Climate Justice: A Man-made Problem With A Feminist Solution.

The talk will look at why feminist solutions could be the key to helping climate change, and why gender equality and the environmental crisis could be linked.

Stand-up comic Mirza will take her hit show Coconut to the festival as part of her UK tour, and writer Curtis – who created the feminist activist collective The Pink Protest and curated the book Feminists Don’t Wear Pink (And Other Lies) – will record her podcast Feminists Don’t Wear Pink live in front of an audience.

Previously announced events for next year’s festival include Caroline Criado Perez: Invisible Women; Don’t Touch My Hair, Bobby Baker’s Drawing On A (Grand) Mother’s Experience; and Letters Live at WOW.

There will also be talks, workshops and panels on motherhood, women in war, feminist sex, domestic abuse, female black art history, and being queer in the 21st century.

Launched in 2010 by theatre director and producer Jude Kelly in the UK, the WOW Festivals have gone on to reach more than two million people across six continents.

Shazia Mirza (Ian West/PA)
Shazia Mirza (Ian West/PA)

In 2018 Kelly founded the WOW Foundation to run the global movement as an independent charitable organisation in a bid to highlight the issues faced across the world by women and girls, and possible solutions.

Wolf said: “I’m so honoured to be joining WOW again, this time to explore The Beauty Myth – 30 Years On. We’ll look, no doubt, at the impact women have made in regards to the issues raised then, and shine a light on what still needs to be addressed.”

“If an organisation can be a heroine, WOW is mine. For years I’ve cheered Jude and her remarkable team as they empower women around the world in transformational ways, and are empowered by them in turn; showcasing the fact that feminism is already everywhere and its leaders are already everywhere. No-one makes feminism joyful, exciting, culturally important and global like WOW.”

Kelly said: “Fearless, inspirational, dogged, hilarious, modest … words I use to describe the brilliant women and girls featuring in our 10th anniversary festival.

“The WOW global community expands daily and it’s a joy to be part of a movement that reminds us of the power unleashed by working together.”

The Women Of The World Festival at the Southbank Centre, London, runs from March 6 to 8 2020 to coincide with International Women’s Day.

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