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KARACHI: Women of the World (WOW) festival organised by the British Council, TAF Foundation and some six local organisations in collaboration with London’s Southbank Centre will be held at the Alliance Francaise de Karachi on Dec 2 and 3.

A preview of the festival, which is all about celebrating women and their achievements while looking at the challenges they might face and which hold them back, presented at a press conference held at the British Council here on Friday many highlights along with several reasons to look forward to it.

WOW was launched in 2010 at Southbank Centre in London by its artistic director Jude Kelly to mark the 100th anniversary of Inter­national Women’s Day and to start conversations on a wider scale with people from all walks of life.

Telling more about it, Raania Azam Khan Durrani, director of arts, British Council Pakistan, said, “In the six years since its inception, WOW has grown into the largest women’s festival network in the world, involving over a million people across five continents.

“As a cultural relations organisation we must focus on mutuality and collective strength of all parts of the community. We believe in the significance of exploratory spaces for creative expression, poetic thought, and appreciation of the intangible arts. WOW is powerful extension of that safe and celebratory space; a festival that welcomes girls, boys, men and women. I am proud to be a part of this global movement, now in its second year in Karachi, and a catalyst for conversations across South Asia and the world,” she said.

About the upcoming festival, the second one of its kind being celebrated in Karachi next month, Faiza Mushtaq, one of the curators of the event, presented an overview. “There will be panel discussions taking up serious issues such as gender and work, representation of women in the media. There would also be a series of workshops,” she shared along with details about speed mentoring and the mentors who will be there such as activist Anis Haroon, classical dancer Sheema Kermani, actress Atiqa Odho, Justice Majida Rizvi, journalist Zofeen T. Ebrahim and Fareiha Aziz along with many other women the youth look up to.

The festival will also include a marketplace with food and other products’ stalls. As a part of WOW BITES 12 women accomplished in their respective fields will share their stories. For the UNDER 10s strand, the focus will be on raising socially conscious kids. There will also be a puppet-making activity. A series of performances will include musical performances, qawwali, dance performance and story reading sessions. There will also be film screenings.

The well-known Lyari boxing girls club which broke the glass ceiling, the Pak Shaheen Boxing Club, will have the boxing girls showcase their skills. A few of them also gave a demonstration at the press conference.

Another important activity at the WOW festival will be “Creating heroines: crowd sourcing a WOWKHI avatar, which will explore incredible stories behind sidelined women in history and mythology, and invite everyone to come and use them to inspire new heroines of the future using traditional puppet-making techniques.”

Published in Dawn, November 25th, 2017