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Sandi Toksvig, Mary Robinson and Emma Dabiri join line-up for feminist WOW festival



Television presenter Sandi Toksvig, broadcaster Emma Dabiri and former president of Ireland Mary Robinson have been confirmed for the line-up of the upcoming Women of the World (WOW) festival.

The aim of the annual feminist event, which will celebrate its 10th year in 2020, is to “explore the state of gender equality across the globe and tackle the subjects that matter most to women and girls across the world today”.

The festival is due to take place from Friday 6 March to Sunday 8 March, with an array of ticketed events scheduled throughout the weekend at London’s Southbank Centre.

The Great British Bake Off co-presenter Toksvig will host a talk at the festival called “How The Hell Did I Get Here?”, in which she will engage in conversations with her personal and professional heroes.

Taking place on the Sunday at 5pm, the 90-minute talk will see Toksvig interview women “who have triumphantly defeated the odds to climb to the very top”.

American feminist author Naomi Wolf will take part in a panel event to explore what has changed in society since the publication of her best-selling book, The Beauty Myth, in 1990.

Regarded as “one of the most talked-about feminist books of the 20th century”, The Beauty Myth will form the basis for Wolf’s discussion with her fellow guests as they investigate “how the landscape has shifted” over the past three decades.

The author said she felt “honoured” to be joining WOW for its annual festival, describing the organisation as a “heroine”.

“For years I’ve cheered Jude [Kelly, founder of the festival] 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 feminist is already everywhere and its leaders are already everywhere,” Wolf said.

“No one makes feminism joyful, exciting, culturally important and global like WOW.”

On the Saturday, Robinson, who served as the seventh president of Ireland from 1990 to 1997, while take part in a talk titled “Climate Justice: A Man-Made Problem with a Feminist Solution”.

Robinson will join leading climate change and social activists as they talk about how women are affected by the climate crisis and what they can do to take action.

Earlier that day, writer Dabiri will host an event titled “Don’t Touch My Hair”, which will explore the stigmatisation and cultural significance of black hair.

Other notable individuals included in the line-up at the WOW festival are stand-up comedian Shazia Mirza, Feminists Don’t Wear Pink curator Scarlett Curtis and The Guilty Feminist podcast host Deborah Frances-White.

The festival will feature a variety of talks, workshops and panels, which people can sign up for by visiting the Southbank Centre website.

The event was first launched in 2010 by theatre director and producer Jude Kelly, who was also artistic director of the Southbank Centre from 2006 to 2018.

Kelly said that she would describe the girls and women taking part in the 2020 WOW festival as “fearless, inspirational, dogged, hilarious and modest”.

“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,” she said.



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