Southbank Centre's Women of the World Festival returns in March for its tenth year, with a host of events looking at the state of gender equality across the globe today. The programme's an impressive one, with talks, mentoring sessions, Q&A panels, a marketplace and more — some events are included in day passes, while others are ticketed separately. These are some of our top picks which still have tickets available at time of writing.
Invisible Women by Caroline Criado Perez
Feminist activist and journalist Caroline Criado Perez is best known for her campaigns to get more women on British banknotes, and for a sculpture of a woman in Parliament Square. Both were successful (Jane Austen and Millicent Fawcett respectively), though she was the recipient of sustained harassment on Twitter as a result — which led to Twitter improving its complaints procedure. Basically, she's a one-woman force to be reckoned with.
Hear her talk about her new book, Invisible Women, which reveals how the world has been built largely by and for men, including in areas of government policy, medical research and urban planning.
Invisible Women. £25, 6 March 2020.
Desi: Out And Proud
LGBTQ+ members of the Desi (Indian diaspora) community offer an insight into their lives. The panel for this event includes activist and author Samra Habib, Britain’s first out Muslim drag queen Asifa Lahore, and broadcaster and DJ Ritu Khurana, who chat about topics including cultural taboos, family dramas, drag queens and sex.
Desi: Out and Proud. Included in Friday pass, 6 March 2020.
Me and White Supremacy
Women of all backgrounds are invited to hear anti-racism educator Layla Saad discussing her new book, Me and White Supremacy, with WOW founder Jude Kelly. Find out what white supremacy is, and if you're in a position to do so, how to use your own privilege to challenge racism and injustice.
Me and White Supremacy. Included in Friday pass, 6 March 2020.
WOW presents a Mayoral Debate
WOW has taken the rather ambitious step of getting the main candidates for the upcoming London Mayoral Election together for a debate about what they would do to improve the lives of women. The impressive line-up includes Conservative candidate Shaun Bailey, Liberal Democrat candidate Siobhan Benita, Green Party candidate Siân Berry, Women’s Equality Party candidate Sue Black, Labour candidate and Mayor of London Sadiq Khan, and Independent candidate Rory Stewart.
They discuss topics including the gender pay gap, the cost of childcare, women's health, and the NHS.
Mayoral Debate. Included in Friday pass, 6 March 2020.
The Guilty Feminist at WOW
Deborah Frances-White's podcast, The Guilty Feminist, has picked up quite a following thanks to its frank discussions of what it means to be a feminist in the 21st century. For a Women of the World special, Frances-White records an episode live in front of an audience, with her co-host, actress and writer Susie Wokoma.
The Guilty Feminist at WOW. £18-£38, 7 March 2020.
The C Word
Hear from women who have survived breast cancer, including entrepreneur Leanne Pero and Samantha Vale, founder of support platform Boobless. 55,000 women in the UK are diagnosed with breast cancer each year, with 11,500 dying from the disease. Hear about the effects that cancer had on these women's lives and families, how the experience changed them, and find out what support is available for anyone affected by breast cancer.
The C Word. Included in Saturday pass, 7 March 2020.
Flo Perry: How To Have Feminist Sex
Flo Perry, writer and illustrator of How to Have Feminist Sex, leads a talk which challenges women to rethink what sex 'should' look like.
Paisley Gilmour, sex and relationships editor at Cosmopolitan UK, chairs the event, with Triple Cripples co-founder Kym Oliver and Soul Sutras founder Sangeeta Pillai also taking part, debunking the myths and stereotypes about sex that we are exposed to via the media, our friends, and porn.
How To Have Feminist Sex. Included in Saturday pass, 7 March 2020.
The Beauty Myth: 30 Years On
30 years since she wrote The Beauty Myth, journalist and feminist activist Naomi Wolf is back to discuss the work, which uncovered why many women are consumed by the pursuit of beauty. Freelance writer and plus-size fashion blogger Stephanie Yeboah, and gender identity activist Levi Hord are among those joining Wolf to talk about what's changed in the last three decades, and how much of The Beauty Myth still applies to Generation Z.
The Beauty Myth: 30 Years On. £25, 8 March.
Women of the World is at Southbank Centre, 6-8 March 2020. Full programme available online, most events require booking.