Monday, 9 March 2015

WOW 2015

Hope everyone had a fabulous International Women's Day yesterday!

picture source

I sure did. I went to the WOW festival this weekend and had a brilliant time. 3 days of talks, debates and performances celebrating women and discussing the challenges we face, just had my little feminist heart singing with glee. 

I'm already looking forward to going to next year. Here's a quick round up of what I saw:-

  1. Blurred Lines with Kirsty Wark. Focusing on a recent BBC documentary, this talk looked at a survey of how British society views women and girls. This was a little bit disappointing to be honest- the acoustics made it hard to hear, and it was oversubscribed so we couldn't sit or see the stage probably   
  2. Stylist, Question Time This was a debate between female MPs or would-be-MPs from Labour, Conservatives, Lib Dem and Greens. As it is an elections year it was very important to hear what they had to say for themselves. I thought they gave rather woolly answers, they made statements about the problems women face, but didn't say how their party intends to solves them. 
  3. How To: Be An MP. This wasn't as informative as I hoped, though I did gain some insight into the day-to-day work of an MP it wasn't really a how to guide. Plus there was no discussion about other barriers, other than gender, that may prevent people becoming involved in politics. For example class and finances are I believe a greater obstacle for me, rather than being a women.
  4.  How To: Please Sir Can I Have Some More? This was a workshop about negotiating a pay rise and it was funny and useful. Stevie Spring and Melanie V. Eusebe are just fabulous and I came away feeling really motivated. 
  5. Lauren Laverne & Sandie Okoro. We got the end of this, Sandie Okoro is one of the most senior women in law, and is witty, warm and inspiring. I wanted to hear more from her. 
  1.  The Transgender Tipping Point with Juliet Jacques, Bethany Black, Faizan Fiaz, Felix Lane and Jane Fae. This had such an interesting panel, and I was so pleased to see that trans issues were included in the festival. There was a real focus on intersectionality by the panel, which was lacking in many of the other talks. 
  2. Bridget Christie a feminist comedian that had me crying with laughter. From fart jokes, to Russell Brand to yoghurt adverts, this show was just perfect. 
  3. The Girl Generation a discussion about FGM, how the campaign against this practice has grown and what there is still to be done. I came to this talk with some knowledge, so it didn't really learn anything new. Still it is a very important topic, and I'm keen to join the Fanny Defence League (such a good name!).
  4. Self Defence  Debi Steven and the work she does with Action Breaks Silence is incredible. We learnt practical defence tips and left feeling empowered. I really want to attend one of her full courses. She is also doing amazing work in India and South Africa, equipping girls with vitial skills that could potentially save them from rape or death. 

  1. Injustice, Intrusion and Immunity with Shami Chakrabarti. I had no idea of how important the Human Rights Act is, and how it has been used to hold the justice system to account and prosecute the police for their failings. This talk was incredibly eye opening, the work of Liberty is phenomenal
  2. Extremism this is very topical at the moment, with lots of young men and women joining IS in Syria. I'm not sure I agreed with panel on many points, but it was good to get a fresh perspective
  3. You've Been Framed: Women and Madness a lot of food for thought in this one, about how social problems such as poverty, racism, childhood abuse contribute to diagnosis of mental disorders.
I really hope these talks and the many, many others are made available on the web, as I had to miss so many due to clashes. 

I had such a good time across all three days, but I would say that the festival needs to be better organised. Many events were oversubscribed, so people had to queue for ages, or where turned away for lack of space. I had to stand or sit on the floor in a fair few of the talks, which was tiring and uncomfortable. The Clore Ballroom is also a crap venue, it was too hard to hear any of the discussion because of nearby noise. Plus I don't think there was enough checking of wristbands, I paid £45 for my ticket, but I reckon I could have snuck in many of the events for free.  

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