From Bradford to Beijing, festival promises to be WOW again

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If you attended last years WOW Bradford festival, you will most certainly not want to miss the festival again as it returns this November promising to be bigger and better.

From Bradford to Beijing, WOW Bradford is part of a global movement of WOW festivals held across the world. What started as a women’s festival in London at Southbank centre by the founder of WOW, Jude Kelly, has fast become the largest women’s festival in the world, with WOW festivals happening across five continents and over 1 million people involved. Next year will mark a century since women fought for the right to vote in the UK, and so WOW Bradford is only one of a handful of WOW’s honouring this legacy.

Last year’s WOW Bradford festival was packed with hard-hitting discussions from self-esteem and body image with modest fashion blogger Dina Tokio, boxing workshops, Beyoncé dance classes, and a stirring speech from, Ziauddin Yousafzai, the father of Nobel Peace Prize winner Malala Yousafzai, about how he didn’t clip his daughter’s wings and let her fly.

This year’s WOW Bradford will see the Badass Women of Bradford discussion return honouring the female change-makers of the city; a sports empowerment workshop led by Bradford Cobra’s Ezdihar Abdulmula; a discussion on hair and self-esteem with body confidence advocate Harnaam Kaur and others; hard-hitting talks on the legacy of the 1947 Partition of Pakistan and India; to Suffra-jitsu self defence classes reviving the self-defence techniques used by suffragettes. Empowering, inspiring and rousing, there will be no shortage of things to do for the very youngest of Bradfordians to the very old, with a variety of events for all and even crèche facilities to ensure that no one misses out.

Last year, WOW Bradford was programmed by theatre director and Bradford lass Evie Manning. The festival was created with the input of Bradfordian women and men alike who had a say in what they wanted to see at the festival. This year WOW Bradford will continue its tradition of being led by the people, for the people. Local lasses Saliha Rubani and Laura Brooks are the power-duo now carrying the WOW Bradford torch, programming a tailored festival that has Bradford and her people at its very heart.

One of the most enduring legacies of the WOW Bradford festival from last year is that it has given a burst of confidence and a hunger for change for those who were involved. Both Saliha Rubani and Laura Brooks started out as volunteers last year, but now they’ve made the giant leap to programming the entire festival. And then there’s the WOWsers, a group of young 15-18 year old young women from schools across the city, who not only created a powerful campaign promoting positive body image with the #IAmPerfectAsMe campaign that is now being used in WOW festivals across the country. They were single-handedly responsible for convincing Malala Yousufzai to attend the festival with a short video they sent to her, until she was taken ill on the day in a dramatic turn of events.

One of the event organisers Aina Khan said: “There is something magical in the air here in Bradford, where there’s a real vibe for change emerging, and it’s Bradford women who are seizing the steering wheel, leading the city towards greener pastures. From local arts organisation like The Brick Box to Bradford council, Bradford’s women are the decision-makers calling the shots, true to Bradford’s rich history of fiercely passionate Bradfordian change-makers.

“With WOW Bradford around the corner, this year’s festival will continue to inspire and empower even more women and young girls to take the wheel and push for change. But here at least in Bradford, to quote Beyoncé, “Who runs the world?” Right now, it seems Bradford women are.”

To get involved or join the movement follow Wow Bradford on Twitter and Facebook or visit kalasangam.org/wow

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