WOW - Women of the World Festival Istanbul
Making the challenges women face and the solutions they create more visible, WOW - Women of the World Festival Istanbul will be held online on 5-6-7 March. The Festival is organized jointly by the British Council and the Sabancı Foundation, in partnership with The WOW Foundation. The festival will focus on Seeing the City through Women’s Gaze, and will share women’s stories through music, performance, videos, discussion and debate.
Through its themes of Participation in the Life of the City; the Invisible Face of the City and Solidarity in the City, it will look at our lives in the public sphere, and in the home. It will be an inclusive, intersectional, open platform for all, to share women’s voices and lay the groundwork for new ideas to emerge. The festival will host performances from female artists from the UK and Turkey working in different disciplines under the WOW Sounds and WOW Performance sections, in collaboration with Selector Radio, Serious Music and MAYK Theatre. In the WOW Concert section, the festival will host the opening concert programmed by Serious, who also organize the EFG London Jazz Festival, as well as performances by musicians from Turkey.
Civil society representatives, academics and artists from Turkey and the UK will come together for the WOW Panels section of the festival to discuss the themes, and inspiring stories of women from Turkey who have overcome obstacles and crossed borders will be shared in the WOW Big Ideas section. WOW Istanbul will also offer an online and interactive programme through WOW Civil Space Solidarity Workshops in collaboration with non-governmental organizations working in the area of gender equality, organized by Pozitif.
The programming of WOW Istanbul Festival has been realized by British Council Head of Arts Esra A. Aysun, with the collective support of the curation team formed by Sabancı Foundation Programs Coordinator Ayşegül Bayar and Sabancı Foundation Programs Supervisor Özen Pulat, and the advisory board formed by Asena Günal (Anadolu Kültür), Aslı İkizoğlu Erensü (Sabancı University), İpek Bozkurt (We Will Stop Femicide Platform), Özlem Ece (İKSV), Rümeysa Çamdereli (Havle), Ülker Uncu (BGST).
Founded in 2010 in London by The WOW Foundation Founder and Director Jude Kelly CBE, WOW Festivals have now spread over six continents, reaching more than 2 million participants at more than 70 festivals. This March, to celebrate International Women’s Day, WOW Festivals and events are taking place across the world. Apart from Istanbul, there will be festivals in the UK, New York, Nepal, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Taiwan and Western Australia.
WOW Istanbul aims to be accessible for all under the consultancy of “Erişilebilir Her Şey” (Everything that is Accessible). Simultaneous Turkish sign language interpretation, Turkish and English subtitle interpretation and simultaneous interpretation into Turkish will be available throughout all broadcasts.
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 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 gender inequality, and responding to Black Lives Matter.Read More
Launched in 2010 in London by Jude Kelly, WOW Festivals have spread over six continents, reaching more than 2 million participants with more than 70 festivals. WOW Festival will be held for the first time in Turkey on 5-6-7 March, organized in Istanbul jointly by the British Council and the Sabancı Foundation.
WOW Festivals are presented in collaboration with Southbank Center (London).
The British Council builds connections, understanding and trust between people in the UK and other countries through arts and culture, education and the English language. We help young people to gain the skills, confidence and connections they are looking for to realise their potential and to participate in strong and inclusive communities. We support them to learn English, to get a high-quality education and to gain internationally recognised qualifications. Our work in arts and culture stimulates creative expression and exchange and nurtures creative enterprise.
The British Council has an international partnership with WOW and have partnered to support WOW festivals around the world. The British Council’s global network of offices and local staff, combined with our unique insight into the UK arts and culture scene, make us the ideal partner to implement WOW festivals that embrace local cultures and communities and make new connections with the UK, whilst still maintaining the unique format WOW is famous for.
About the British Council Women and Leadership in Culture and Arts Programme
The British Council believes that gender equality and women’s empowerment are vital for inclusive, open and developed societies. Empowering women and promoting gender equality to create multiplier effects in all areas that accelerate sustainable development, by supporting women leaders and artists who focus on social diversity in the field of culture, is an important part of our programme.
The Women and Leadership in Culture and Arts Programme supports and collaborates with women creators and non-governmental organisations working on gender equality. It started with Research on Women in Leadership in Culture, and continued with a professional development programme in the UK for women leaders in arts and culture in Turkey. This was followed by #WomenPowerinCulture (#KültürdeKadınGücü), a grant support programme for organizations working with women artists in the UK, Festival Area, a radio programme focusing on gender equality on Açık Radyo, and Turkey’s participation in WOW Global 24, the first global digital festival in the world aimed at addressing women.
Since its establishment in 1974, the Sabancı Foundation has been contributing to Turkey’s social development in the fields of education, culture, art and social change based on the vision of a society in which the individuals benefit from rights equally. Since 14 years through its grant programs, the Foundation has been providing support to the projects of civil society organizations in order to promote access to equal opportunities for women, youth and persons with disabilities to participate in all aspects of society.
The Sabancı Foundation has so far provided funding of more than 28 million Turkish liras for 173 projects in 76 provinces. Women being one of its main target groups, the Foundation provides grants for projects that aim to increase rights awareness, combat domestic violence and mainstream gender equality. In 2006, the Foundation supported the United Nations Joint Program with the aim of ‘protecting and promoting the human rights of women and girls’ and continued this work for 10 years to spread its positive impacts at the local level. Contributing to the removal of obstacles to girls’ education by opening 19 dormitories in 17 provinces, the Foundation still supports the Purple Certificate Program carried out by Sabancı University in order to raise awareness about gender equality among teachers. Within the scope of the Sabancı Foundation Grant Programs, projects of civil society organizations on the prevention of early and forced marriages, education of girls, empowerment of women and gender equality are supported. According to the OECD report “Insights on Philanthropy for Gender Equality” published in 2019, the Sabancı Foundation is among the top seven foundations in the world focusing on gender equality.