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Why you should attend Women of the World festival at Factory International this weekend

Wow, the Women of the World festival is informative, inclusive, and maybe most importantly of all, great fun. Here's why you should head down this weekend
Sabeena WOW

As Manchester gears up to host the WOW – Women of the World Festival this weekend, anticipation is building for what promises to be a transformative and empowering event.

This dynamic festival, which will take over Factory International, is a celebration of the diverse voices, talents, and perspectives of women, girls, and non-binary people.

And it’s on this weekend.

Why you should go to the WOW festival this weekend

It is an important gathering that shines a spotlight on critical issues affecting gender equity and provides a platform for urgent conversations and inspiring performances.

The significance of the WOW Festival cannot be overstated.

In a world where gender inequality remains a huge challenge, WOW Manchester offers a unique space to address these issues head-on.

Attendees will have the opportunity to engage with world-class speakers, activists, and performers such as Mel B, Julia Gillard, DJ Paulette, Maxine Peake, and Jordan Stephens.

These influential figures will share their insights and stories, building a deeper understanding of the complexities surrounding gender and inspiring action towards a more equitable future.

From discussions on climate change and reproductive justice to sessions on the history of the fashion industry and the impact of gentrification, the festival’s diverse programming ensures there is something for everyone.

Whether you are a seasoned activist or exploring gender equity issues for the first time, WOW Manchester provides an inclusive and welcoming environment to learn, connect, and grow.

So why not head down to this amazing festival this weekend?

We sat with WOW programme director Sabeena Akhtar, Head of Projects and Programmes discuss the importance of WOW and why you should head down to Factory International to check it out.

Why is it important for people to come together in a festival setting to discuss issues of gender equity?

The WOW Foundation was established almost 15 years ago by Jude Kelly. She envisioned a space for frank conversations infused with joy and an element of fun, making these discussions accessible to everyone.

Personally, for example, I experienced this transformation first-hand.

The festival used to be held at the Southbank Centre. As a working-class Muslim woman who wears a hijab, I never thought of the Southbank Centre as a place for me before this festival. But after seeing WOW festival there, I know it is! 

Now, being involved in programming it feels particularly special.

It’s all about reaching the communities we aim to connect with, bringing joy and fun into the mix -what better place to do that than a festival?

At WOW, we offer a variety of engaging activities. From popup performances to short talks, we aim to keep things dynamic.

We encourage movement, whether it’s through a guided walk around Manchester or venting frustrations in our rage room, where participants can share a communal scream in a dark space.

There’s always a great selection of enjoyable experiences to be had.

What are some of the urgent conversations and critical issues being addressed at this year’s WOW Manchester?

Our primary aim is for attendees to have a thoroughly enjoyable time.

We hope they stumble upon intriguing conversations, meet fascinating individuals, or encounter new concepts they haven’t engaged with before.

All of this within a positive and welcoming environment. Ultimately, we want people to leave with a sense of fulfilment and excitement from their experience.

What kind of impact do you hope the festival will have on attendees both during and after the event?

It’s all about perspective, isn’t it? What constitutes a critical issue varies depending on who you’re speaking to. However, what we excel at is providing an open platform without censorship or the imposition of views. Our goal is to offer a space for people from all walks of life to share their experiences and stories.

We feature diverse topics, ranging from a South Asian woman discussing life with cancer to someone sharing their experience of a late-life autism diagnosis.

We also have individuals sharing their stories of survival during wars and others discussing issues such as censorship faced by a pole dancer on Instagram. It’s a blend of topics that are pressing and relevant to everyone. I’m confident there will be something of interest for everyone attending.

What unique experiences can attendees expect at WOW Manchester that they wouldn’t get at other festivals or events?

It’s fantastic to offer a diverse range of experiences all under one roof. Our marketplace features artistic installations alongside stalls where attendees can purchase various items. Additionally, we’re proud to host a South Asian pavilion showcasing work from countries such as Nepal, Pakistan, and Bangladesh.

Moreover, we offer unique activities like angst aerobics, where participants can engage in aerobic exercises set to the backdrop of death metal music. It’s this eclectic mix that adds to the richness of our event.

We’ve also arranged for hype huns to roam the building, bringing energy and excitement wherever they go. They’re equipped with mobile glitter stations, ready to uplift attendees with affirmations and glitter tattoos.

For families, we’re hosting a family-friendly day rave called the Her-ci-enda. With such diverse offerings, from challenging conversations to enjoyable activities, all under one roof, there’s truly something for everyone. No matter your interests, you’re bound to find something that resonates with you.

If you were to try and persuade someone to come down and get involved, what would you say to them?

With such diverse offerings, from challenging conversations to enjoyable activities, all under one roof, there’s truly something for everyone.

No matter your interests, you’re bound to find something that resonates with you. Personally, I’m really looking forward to Jordan Stephens joining us on Sunday evening. He’ll be delving into the topic of masculinity, sharing his experiences with gender equity and his contributions to the feminist dialogue. Jordan is not only a fantastic ally but also a friend. As a musician, he brings a unique perspective to the table and is sure to captivate audiences with his insights.

During his session, Jordan will touch upon various topics, including addiction, relationships, and more. It promises to be an engaging and thought-provoking discussion.

For those looking to be inspired, empowered, and connected, WOW Manchester is a must-visit event.

It offers a rare opportunity to witness and participate in meaningful conversations, celebrate achievements, and build a community dedicated to driving positive change.

You can get tickets to WOW by clicking here

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