WOW Festival

WOW Festival

What is the WOW Festival?

WOW Festival is the world’s largest event for women, feminine and non-binary people. It was first organized in London in 2010 and has more than 100 festivals and events. At festivals around the world, over 5,000,000 people have taken part in 30 locations across 6 continents. From 6 to 8 April 2024, the Stavros Niarchos Foundation Cultural Centre, in collaboration with the British Council, presented for the 2nd year the WOW – Women of the World festival in Athens.

The festival included talks, panel discussions, photography exhibitions, workshops, concerts, film screenings, mentoring sessions and stage organizations The themes covered the wide range of topical issues of concern to women. The difficulties they face due to misogyny and stereotypes at home, at work and in society.

WOW Festival Athens

Inclusion and Accessibility

In this year’s festival, inclusion was a priority. There was direct translation from English to Greek and panel discussions were also held in Greek sign language. Subtitles, a Braille summary programme, wheelchair loan and the possibility of escorting visitors with visual disabilities contributed to accessibility.

In addition, at the beginning of each discussion, along with the introductions, a detailed description of the speakers’ appearance and the layout of the room followed. Audio isolation headphones were provided for people with sensory processing problems and people on the autism spectrum.

Topics

The themes addressed by the panels covered a range of issues that needed to be addressed. Reports on unrealistic standards of beauty, discussions on sex education, sexist discourse and gender bias occupied the first day of theWOW Festival.

The second day coordinated talks on policy design, women’s experience, gender, motherhood, mental health and the need for security. Inclusion, myths and realities, mansplaining, suggestions for improvement and the role of men in the struggle for gender equality closed the three-day festival.

lucy kassa
Lucy Kassa Photo By:Pelagia Karanikola
WOW-ATHENS_-WOW-Marketplace
WOW Market Place

Film screenings with corresponding themes and workshops made the event more interactive and interesting. In fact, this year the Anna Politkovskaya Award was awarded to to Lucy Kassa.The investigative journalist from Ethiopia documented the atrocities committed during the civil war in the Tigray region of Ethiopia from 2020-2022, focusing on the mass rape and torture of women as a strategy of war, as a weapon of crushing and subjugating the people.

In addition,the WOW market was full of surprises for passersby, selling everything from books to sanitary pads.At the same time, during breaks from one activity to another, musical selections from either live female artists or DJ sets provided a danceable, relaxing – and much needed – break.

WOW Festival Athens 2024
WOW Festival Athens 2024 Έκθεση Φωτογραφίας

Photography Exhibitions

Exhibits and facility installations were set up and placed before and during the event. The exhibition “The Hope Brigade” was displayed in the metro stations. A series of photographs, taken by Greek photographers, depicting remarkable women who have stood out and inspired. The SNFCC hosted an outdoor exhibition on the historical and institutional realities surrounding the dreams and constraints faced by femininity. Portraits of women and girls from the countryside, from underprivileged social environments adorned the park of the Foundation.

WOW-Athens_The-Hope-Brigade_Εκθεση-Φωτογραφίας
Photo By Marily Zarkou

Girls’ stories

The panels featured stories of girls, aged 13 to 17, who portrayed their experiences, stereotypes, obstacles and the world through their eyes. The convergence of both the girls’ stories with each other and with the themes and current affairs was chilling. In particular, one teenage girl’s narrative referred to how she would like to “eat her banana at school without being commented on” and that is tragic.

The Participation of Women Do Business at the WOW Festival

Women Do Business could not have been absent from Women Of the World Festival. The co-founders and volunteers from all over Greece made an appointment at the Stavros Niarchos Foundation in Athens to attend the panels and workshops. The three-day event was full of reflections, emotions, information and anger. Diverse emotions shared b Women Do Business with all those who participated or attended the festival, proving the importance and necessity for change.

Eri Pavlaki in wow festival

On Sunday, April 7, the co-founder of the Organization and CEO of Star Sleep, Eri Pavlaki participated in the panel on “Age Racism at Work | Building intergenerational bridges”.Along with Eri Pavlaki, Ms. Kefalas – Deputy Minister of Social Cohesion and Family of Greece, Antigoni Lymperaki – Professor of Economics, Panteion University and moderator Penelope Theodorakakou, co-founder of Women OnTop.

Age restrictions are an issue that concerns people over 40 but also younger people. They even affect the 30+ woman. (Because of course she will want to have a family….. A known inhibitor to being productive in her job!!!).

So what is WOW?

WOW is the fact that being a woman is more dangerous than being a soldier in an armed conflict. It is, that misogyny, is an obstacle to our dreams, career advancement and life. WOW is being killed by your ex-partner outside the police station. Thinking about how to dress to leave the house, what time to get home and which way to go. Or horror when you return to an unsafe house, often your own home. Even more WOW is that, in such an inclusive and accessible event, the percentage of men in attendance remains minimal.

 But there is a more powerful WOW. The one that comes from the voices of all of us, regardless of location or season. The power that drives us to challenge and motivate each other. People of all ages attended the three-day WOW Festival identified, shared stories and were inspired. After all, this is what happens wherever the festival has been held. The need for change is greater than ever and hopefully by the next festival real change will have occurred in this patriarchal society.

Article writer: Katerina Faili

Translated by: Nectaria Lambropoulou

Article Editor: Sofia Dialiatsi

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