The Women of the World Festival is a global movement launched by British director and producer Jude Kelly in 2010, artistic director of the Southbank Center, one of the largest cultural centers of Europe, on the centenary of the Women International Day. First held in 2010, WOW has visited 23 countries of Europe, Asia and Africa, as well as several cities in England.
From this meeting, Jude Kelly proposed to Redes da Maré the challenge of holding a festival to bring together the voices, experiences and ideas of women in Rio de Janeiro, with all their diversity.
The Women of the World Festival is a space for women to speak freely on all issues - including those that, historically, have had to be silenced. In addition, the festival has a clear commitment: to open a space for the experiences of women and girls from the cities where it takes place.
1. To celebrate the achievements of girls and women in a welcoming and open space, where the diverse strands of contemporary feminism can be recognized and express themselves freely.
2.To promote an intense exchange of knowledge, artistic experiences, cultural and professional projects, stories and reflections, composing a panel on the aspirations, difficulties, fears, dreams and struggles of women in Rio de Janeiro and the world.
3. To encourage, document and disseminate reflections on the impact of Brazilian structural inequalities on women's lives, especially in Rio de Janeiro.
“Getting to know the House of Women of Maré was a unique and beautiful experience! It was very impressive to understand how it works as a place of security, peace and, above all, education, in the midst of a neighborhood with so many conflicts and challenges.
It is not just a place of refuge for day-to-day struggles but a place where women can reflect on how their voices bring profound changes in their own lives, for the community and even the country.
It’s a place to think creatively, with women with deep life experiences, knowing that intersectional changes help to redesign the world.”
Jude Kelly – Creator of the Festival and president of the WOW Foundation, visited the House of Women of Maré in 2016
"The Women of the World Festival dialogues directly with the proposal of the House of Women of Maré, which is a project developed by Redes da Maré that considers the women’s condition and carries out projects to improve their lives.
WOW is a great event that aims to celebrate the stories of women's struggles in all their perspectives and desires.
It is very important and symbolic for this Festival to arrive in Rio de Janeiro, for the first time in Latin America, through the hands of a project that takes place in a favela territory.
It warns to the need to seek conditions to live in the city with more rights, more joy, better quality of life and less inequality".
Eliana Sousa Silva – Director of Redes da Maré and curator of WOW Rio
When planning the event, the organizers valued important themes for women of different generations in Rio de Janeiro. To identify them, they invited women from different regions, backgrounds, ages and areas of expertise to give their opinion on what issues should be addressed.
To discuss issues related to women, Redes da Maré held Teaser WOW, a series of six meetings that occupied different territories of the city with activities in the four dimensions of the Women of the World Festival - dialogues, activism, entrepreneurship and art and culture interventions.
As a preparation for the 1st edition of WOW Rio, from November 2017 to May 2018, 200 women met in five discussion groups, held in the neighborhoods of Centro, Flamengo, Santa Cruz and Maré. One of the meetings was attended by Judy Kelly, founder of WOW.
In a city with high homicide rates, one of the topics proposed was the losses caused by violence. Another, the need for a realistic, not idealized, look at motherhood. There were those who punctuated the demand for workshops on healthy eating, yoga and meditation. The oppression represented by the obsession with a perfect body; the challenges caused by the aging of the Brazilian population; the objectification of the female body; the aspirations of mature women; new family arrangements; spirituality; early pregnancy, sexuality and consumerism were other issues that were remembered.
The raised topics helped the curatorship - in charge of the Southbank Center and Redes da Maré - to formulate an initial program proposal. In the discussions, phrases from the participants gave the measure of expectation in relation to the event. See some below:
“THE TRUE BREATH OF OUR PLANET IS US, WOMEN. WE ARE THE HEART, WE ARE THE TRUE LIFE. YES, WE MUST HAVE SEVERAL FESTIVALS CELEBRATING WOMEN”.
“THERE WILL BE A LOT OF WOMEN OCCUPYING SPACES, TALKING. WE WILL BE ABLE TO LOOK FACE TO FACE, FEEL THE ENERGY, BE TOGETHER, TALK ABOUT OUR FIGHTS, OUR ACHIEVEMENTS, OUR DEFEATS ... I HOPE THAT IT HAS POLITICS, ART, MUSIC, DANCE, NERD CULTURE, PEOPLE CULTURE, MADE BY WOMEN TO OTHER WOMEN.”
“THERE SHALL BE BLACK WOMEN, WHITE WOMEN. MOTHERS, DAUGHTERS. RICH, MIDDLE CLASS AND POOR WOMEN. I THINK EVERYONE TOGHETER CAN BUILD A BETTER WORLD!”
To better understand the context and relevance of women's political activities in Rio de Janeiro, the Women of the World Festival surveyed women leaders and organizations aimed at women in the city. The research, the first of its kind in Rio, is a legacy that the Festival made accessible to all those interested in the political participation of women. See the full document here.
The survey identified 204 local leaders and 235 government, non-government and private sector organizations. The areas with the largest number of active institutions are: justice (36); art and culture (29); health (28); science and research (20) and media and communication (10). Most organizations focus on the city of Rio de Janeiro (73); 61 are virtual platforms.
The objectives of these institutions are related to the various issues of contemporary women: combating domestic and family violence; mobilization for feminist or LGBTQ+ causes; justice; ethnic-racial themes; Health; combating prejudice and discrimination; promoting and strengthening of women's rights; welcoming spaces; urban interventions; promotion of meetings; production and dissemination of knowledge; workshops; female collectives; supportive networks; art and culture; education.
The work to map organizations dedicated to women's issues continues. Register your institution, nucleus, collective or civil society organization here. SEE THE MAP
The Brazilian edition of WOW, held in 2018, had more than 200 national and international guests. Women from different countries, cultures and interests participated in the event - which brought together 95 thousand people in three days of intense activities and is already a milestone in the discussions about contemporary women in Brazil.
Scientists, activists, entrepreneurs, educators, artists, indigenous, black, religious, quilombola and political leaders were present at a great meeting of diversity and respect for differences.
Names such as the writers Scholastique Mukasonga (Rwanda), Paulina Chiziane (Mozambique), Tania de Montaigne (France), Reni Eddo-Lodge (England) and Diana Andringa (Finland), the director of a library for women's themes Adele Patrick (Scotland), performer Moon Ribas (Spain), safe city activist Kalpana Viswanath (India), activist Lilian Celiberti (Uruguay), among many other international guests from around the world.
Among the national guests, incredible women participated in the WOW Rio, such as writer Conceição Evaristo, philosophers Sueli Carneiro and Djamila Ribeiro, indigenous activist Sonia Guajajara, writer and cook Sonia Hirsch, Olympic swimmer Joanna Maranhão, rapper Preta Rara, activist Anielle Franco, LGBTQ leader in Maré Gilmara Cunha, Olympic medalist Jackie Silva, choreographer Lia Rodrigues, journalist Maju Coutinho, anthropologist Mirian Goldemberg, activist Monica Benício and funkeiras Tati Quebra Barraco and Waleska Popozuda, among hundreds of others.
The cultural performances were another show - literally. Dozens of women artists, from the most different fields, performed at music and dance exhibitions, fashion shows, processions, plastic arts display, graffiti, performances, poems, slams, clowning… making the party, inspiring the public and taking even more more beauty and power to the Women of the World Festival 2018.
Eliana Sousa Silva
Maíra Gabriel, Renata Peppl,
Marisa S. Mello, Ayla Gomes e
Andreza Jorge e Inês Di Mari
Luciana Bento/Pauta Positiva Comunicação e Luciana Ackermann
Amapola Rios e Marcos Rogozinski / Pixfolio
Consulado da França
Consulado dos Estados Unidos da América
Fundação Itaú Social
Fundação Roberto Marinho
Museu de Arte do Rio (MAR)
Museu do Amanhã
Observatório de Favelas
People's Palace Projects
Prefeitura da Cidade do Rio de janeiro
Secretaria Municipal de Cultura