Top picks for the Women of the World (WOW) Festival, Southbank Centre, London


The Southbank Centre annual Women of the World (WOW) Festival starts tomorrow and it's set to be a really great experience. Celebrating the formidable strength and inventiveness of women, it will feature music performances, films, comedy, theatre, poetry, as well as a three-day conference dealing with debates, talks, workshops, networking and mentoring opportunities.

Afri-love Highlights:

Reflections on the Self – Five African Women Photographers
(See separate post)

Baaba Maal: In Praise of the Female Voice
Royal Festival Hall, Saturday 12 March, 8pm, £40, £35, £25, £20
Icons and exciting new talent come together for this powerful highlight of the WOW festival. The concert will be a celebration of the female voice with a diverse line-up that includes the show-stopping vocal talents of Missouri-born Krystle Warren, rising pop star V V Brown, Mercury Prize-winner Speech Debelle, West African singer Annie-Flore Batchiellilys, legendary South African singer Yvonne Chaka Chaka and, as their special guest, Senegalese singer and guitarist Baaba Maal.

The Front Room at Queen Elizabeth Hall, Friday 11 March, 5.30pm, free

Eska Mtungwazi is a talented vocalist, a celebrated arranger and conductor. Her new solo project English Skies, in which she works alongside Matthew Herbert, reveals Eska as an outstanding folk singer/songwriter.


Ayanna Witter-Johnson
Purcell Room, Sunday 13 March, 8.30pm, £12.50
Cellist and singer Ayanna Witter-Johnson presents her songs with a selection of special guests for this one-off London show. Last autumn she won the Talent Night at the Harlem Apollo following in the footsteps of legendary performers from Ella Fitzgerald to James Brown, Michael Jackson, Lauryn Hill and Luther Vandross.

The Boxettes
The Clore Ballroom, Friday 11 March, 10.30pm, free
An unconventional acapella sound with tight beatbox work set against dreamy, sundrenched harmonics – Alyusha, Yvette, Neo and Harriet, and current World Female Beatbox Champion Bellatrix come together to evocative and powerful effect.


My conference picks:

Friday 11th March
Lynne Franks Presents B.Ethical: a WOW women’s business forum
Author, entrepreneur and lifestyle guru Lynne Franks is joined by eight high-profile women all running their own ethical businesses to discuss the different aspects of their enterprises and their journeys towards making them a success. Come and join them to find out how you can run your own successful, ethical business.

Mother Earth
Can women radicalise the way we save the planet? Campaigning author and journalist Rosie Boycott chairs a panel including founder of Climate Rush, Tamsin Omond, who stormed Parliament dressed as a suffragette, Caroline Lucas MP, leader of the Green Party, and Jyoti Mhapsekar, founder of womens' liberation organisation Stree Mukti Sanghatana, an inspirational initiative with the women waste pickers of Mumbai.

Saturday 12th March
Women and Health
Laura Lee from the Maggie’s Centre explains how design and beauty can directly impact on health of patients with cancer; Dr Precious Lunga, an epidemiologist from Zimbabwe, reveals HIV to be the greatest killer of women in Africa and the amazing research that is providing new hope; and the White Ribbon Alliance explain the shocking statistics surrounding childbirth mortality. All three panellists ask what value is placed on women’s health.

Finance and Microfinance
Women are said to own just over one per cent of the world’s wealth. A formidable group of women from the London School of Economics demystify the banking system and explain how a fresh look at finance could shift that statistic.

Make a zine in a day
Female arts collective Storm in a Teacup lead a workshop in creating a zine in a day.With zine makers, scissors and glue on hand, all the tools will be provided for participants to produce their very own DIY publication.

Sunday 13th March
Bring out your feminist side – Men Talk
Is feminism a woman only pursuit or are we all in it together? BBC Asian Network DJ Nihal and others join Kwame Kwei-Armah, who leads a discussion where the boys bare their souls.

More info and booking here. Enjoy and please do report back 🙂



All images courtesy of the Southbank Centre. From top: Eska, Ayanna Witter-Johnson, The Boxettes.

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