The highly-anticipated WOW (Women of the World) Australia 2021 will be held in communities across Queensland with a series of bold, conversation-provoking festivals and events taking place throughout the year from June through to October.
An alternative to the multi-day WOW Australia Festival held in Brisbane, this year’s unique program aims to celebrate the achievements of women and girls living in regional and remote areas, while recognising the continued problems of gender being a barrier to achieving life’s goals.
The WOW movement is one of the largest across the globe highlighting and finding solutions to gender discrimination and enabling women and girls to create tangible change in their communities.
Kicking off in Western Queensland, organisers of WOW Australia are working with local women to create day-long festivals in Charleville (4-5 June) and Longreach (2-3 July), before heading north to Cairns (6-7 August), and wrapping up in Logan (8-9 October).
Among the line-up of leading changemakers joining local women in conversations and workshops across different locations will be WOW Australia patron The Hon. Quentin Bryce; Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Social Justice Commissioner June Oscar; Queensland’s Chief Health Officer Dr Jeanette Young, and political leaders from local and state government.
Sports and community leaders will also join the line-up, including Multicultural Australia CEO Christine Castley; changemakers from the business community including Femeconomy, ImpaQt Qld founder Lisa Siganto, and Regional Economic Solutions MD Leann Wilson. Financial leaders from QSuper will also deliver finance workshops and one-on-one support to empower women.
Performances, music, comedy and fashion will be key elements of each festival, with ARIA nominated Wannadilyakwa singer-songwriter Emily Wurramara, hyper-visual and pop inspired Polytoxic – led by performance makers Lisa Fa’alafi & Leah Shelton – musician Áine Tyrrell, and comedian Mandy Nolan bringing dangerous dialogue and uncomfortable collaborations to the boil with the Country Witches Association.
Central to the WOW Western Queensland events will be fashion and performances for the new ready-to-wear collections from Red Ridge the Label, featuring designs from over 30 local women artists.
The Queensland Government is the principal partner supporting Brisbane-based non-profit organisation Of One Mind to deliver the WOW Australia program, with a three-year commitment from 2020.
Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk said at a time when there is a national conversation happening around how women and girls are treated in Australia, it’s important that we continue to champion that change and to also recognise the resilience and strength of women and girls across our state.
“COVID-19 may have placed limits on how we are able to come together to celebrate, but there are no limits set on Queenslanders’ resolve to embrace gender equality and encourage discussions
about the barriers preventing women and girls from reaching their full potential, along with solutions to overcome these challenges,” the Premier said.
“The Queensland Government is proud to be the principal partner of the revamped 2021 celebration, and we look forward to the WOW Australia Festival re-emerging in Brisbane in 2022.”
The strength of all WOW celebrations is the diversity of its participants and voices and, once again, First Nations women’s experiences will be central to all programs.
“We are thrilled the voices of women and girls in regional, remote and rural towns will be celebrated and their ideas for the future will be heard,” Global Advisor for the WOW Foundation and Executive Producer of WOW Australia Cathy Hunt said.
“It is wonderful to see the Queensland Government and our partners continue to recognise the role our conversations and celebrations play in the economic and social recovery of the state.
“We know the global pandemic has impacted the lives and livelihoods of girls and women, and communities so as the economy rebuilds from the havoc wrecked by COVID-19, now is the perfect time to rethink the world in which we want to live, value women’s work and find solutions to ongoing issues of gender discrimination.”
Attendees will also be consulted on the development of the new Queensland Women’s Strategy, which outlines the Queensland Government’s vision: that the Queensland community respects women, embraces gender equality and promotes and protects the rights, interests and wellbeing of all women and girls.
“It’s never been more important to celebrate the achievements of women and girls, recognise their resilience and start the conversation on what more we can do to achieve gender equality,” Attorney-General and Minister for Women and the Prevention of Domestic and Family Violence, Shannon Fentiman said.
“During COVID women were disproportionality impacted and their economic security was hit hard. It’s time to rethink and find solutions on how we can put women on a level playing field with men.”
Deputy Mayor of the Longreach Regional Council Leonie Nunn said she is excited that local women and girls have the opportunity to share their personal stories, challenges and ideas.
“I’d encourage all Queenslanders with a passion for arts, culture and celebrating women to support this event. WOW is for everyone including men and boys and is guaranteed to be an uplifting and life-changing experience,” Cr Nunn said.
Major sponsors and advocates for gender equality, Griffith University and QSuper, continue to support the WOW Australia initiative and enable these events to take place, while support has also been received for 2021 from the Tim Fairfax Family Foundation, which recognises the role WOW celebrations play in building the capacity of communities to improve their vibrancy, connectedness, and resilience.
In addition to the WOW Australia events taking place in Charleville, Longreach, Cairns and Logan, Of One Mind will be partnering with arts and community organisations to help deliver a series of events celebrating women in Brisbane, Katherine in the Northern Territory, Quilpie and the Scenic Rim, and will continue to bring conversations and stories to a wider audience through its digital portal, The Well.
WOW Festivals and events have now taken place in more than 30 locations on six continents, presented in partnership with UK charity The Wow Foundation, whose director Jude Kelly CBE founded WOW in 2010.
To view the full program, including dates, locations, ticket sales and digital activities, head to the WOWAustralia.com website.
About The WOW Foundation
The WOW Foundation was created by Jude Kelly CBE in 2018 to run the global movement that is WOW – Women of the World Festivals. The Festivals began in the UK in 2010, launched by Kelly at the Southbank Centre London, where she was Artistic Director, to celebrate women and girls, taking a frank look at what prevents them from achieving their potential, raising awareness globally of the issues they face, and discussing solutions together.
To date, WOW has reached over 2 million people in 17 countries on six continents, in locations including Australia, Brazil, China, Egypt, Finland, Nepal, Nigeria, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, Somaliland, the UK and the USA. In 2018/19 WOW was in Rio de Janeiro, Cardiff, Bradford, Bangladesh, Brisbane, Janakpur (Nepal), Baltimore, London, Exeter, Norwich, Perth, Beijing, Ghana and Nigeria. In June 2020, WOW held its first ever worldwide online festival focused on women and girls — WOW Global 24. The festival travelled around the world everywhere from the UK to Nigeria, and Pakistan to Australia exploring the intersectional impact of COVID-19 on
Over the last 10 years the Festivals have developed a reputation as a space for world renowned artists, activists, thinkers and performers including Angela Davis, Malala Yousafzai, Annie Lennox, Patrick Stewart, Baroness Doreen Lawrence and Salma Hayek, to come and participate, alongside thousands of women and girls who don’t have public profiles but are doing amazing things. WOW provides platforms for people of all kinds, changes attitudes, brings communities together and provides a unique space for people to work together towards gender equality in their own communities. One example of the impact the festival has come in 2015, with the founding of the Women’s Equality Party by Sandi Toksvig and Catherine Mayer.
In 2018 Kelly left the Southbank Centre to run The WOW Foundation full time as a charity working to build, convene and sustain a global movement that believes a gender equal world is possible and desirable through festivals and empowering women and girls. The unique festival model creates numerous pathways for participants to take part in WOW projects, amplify their own causes, or start new initiatives, which have a wide impact on communities. It is the biggest, most comprehensive and most significant festival dedicated to presenting work by women and promoting equality for women and girls.
WOW festivals and events are presented by arrangement with the Southbank Centre. The President of WOW – Women of the World is HRH The Duchess of Cornwall.
About WOW Australia
Of One Mind (OOM), is a cultural enterprise formed by Cathy Hunt & Leigh Tabrett in 2014 to promote cultural activities & to enhance the cultural life of the community by developing & supporting cultural activities which address or communicate pressing social issues & create lasting cultural change through social innovations.
The driving force behind WOW (Women of the World) festivals in Australia for 7 years, OOM initiated the partnership with Sydney Writers Festival in 2013 & WOW at Footscray Community Arts Centre in 2016. OOM’s main focus has been in working with the Katherine Community since 2013 with 3 WOW festivals, producing WOW Brisbane 2015, WOW at Festival 2018 (part of the Commonwealth Games Cultural Program) which included a QLD Regional Program & WOW Australia 2020 – postponed due to the COVID-19 health crisis.