Strategic partners British Council, CCD Bangladesh and Mongol Deep Foundation will organize Bangladesh's first ever online festival focusing on women and girls named 'WOW Virtual Bangladesh' from 29 to 30 July.
The two-day festival aims to celebrate women and girl's voices across the country, living in or beyond the margins of society and will feature counter narratives of women who do not belong to the majority or mainstream but venture out in paths less travelled and succeed in paving new ways for gender equality, said a press release.
Founded by Jude Kelly CBE, WOW - Women of the World is an international festival that celebrates the achievements of women, girls and non-binary people and looks at some of the obstacles they face across the world.
WOW Chapters are divisional community events in Bangladesh which provide a platform to celebrate women and girls and explore the obstacles which prevent them from achieving their full potential.
WOW Chapters were previously hosted in Chattogram, Khulna, Rajshahi, Rangpur and Sylhet between 2017-2018. In response to the pandemic, this year WOW Chapters will go online through WOW Virtual Bangladesh and expand to represent women's voices from more divisional cities like Barishal and Mymensingh along with Chattogram, Khulna, Rajshahi, Rangpur and Sylhet.
WOW Virtual Bangladesh is a free online festival open for all. Easily accessible online, the festival will be premiering LIVE on 29 and 30 July at 9.00 PM through British Council Bangladesh, CCD Bangladesh and Mongol Deep Foundation's Facebook pages, as well as broadcast LIVE through Radio Shadhin 99.4 FM and Radio Padma News 99.2 FM and streamed live through their Facebook pages.
The online events will feature different WOW Bites, where women's unheard challenges will be brought to focus, highlighting their achievements.
Through their counter narratives, the stories will reflect on barriers faced and overcome by marginalized communities every day.
The festival will also feature an online WOW Marketplace, where women business owners share their experiences of running businesses online during the pandemic, products highlighting divisional specialties and their hopes going forward.
As part of the festivities, there will be fun and meaningful Pop-up Performances with music, dance, poetry and drama, energizing audiences and inspiring along the way.
"The impact of these counter narratives is to empower and give agency to different communities, giving a space to individuals to choose their own words and tell their own stories. Women all over Bangladesh are making strides, and platforms like WOW will encourage them further." - Sara Zaker, Founder and Chairperson, Mongol Deep Foundation
An online festival of firsts, the programme line up will include stories from Professor Dr Sharifa Salwa Dina (first woman Pro Vice Chancellor of Begum Rokeya University), Tashnuva Anan Shishir (Bangladesh's first transgender news presenter), Mukti Rani Bala (the country's first female Hindu Marriage Registrar), Tanzila (the country's first woman gatekeeper in rail crossing) and along with other inspiring women like Sharnalata Roy (President, Sylhet Women Chamber of Commerce), Pinaki Bhattacharjee (Assistant Trainer for self-defense under The Crack Platoon) and Tanzila Sultana (District Representative Mymensingh of Women and E-Commerce Forum).
The Marketplace will feature Sumaiya Islam Choity (Choubacca), Rabeya Maruf (Sultana's Dream), Sharmin Akter Luna (Food Art of Barisal), Rojina Akter (jhiyari), Sabiha Akther Bithi (Ronginbagicha), Farhan Yasmin (Nokshikarukaj) and Aynun Naher Munmun (Daruchini Kabbo). Audiences will also get to enjoy performances from Nishita Barua, Sabittre Hembram, Shuvra Biswas, Sheikh Dina and Tonni, Monira Rahman Mithi and Zakiya Sultana Kornia.
"WOW provides platforms for people of all kinds, changes attitudes, brings communities together and provides a unique space for people to work together towards gender equality in their own communities." said, Jude Kelly CBE, CEO and Founder of The WOW Foundation.
Jude, the CEO and Founder of The WOW Foundation, launched WOW in 2010 when she was Artistic Director of Southbank Centre in London. It is the biggest, most comprehensive and most significant festival dedicated to presenting work by women and promoting equality for women, girls and non-binary people.
As Bangladesh celebrates 50 years of its extraordinary journey as a nation, this year also marks 70 years since British Council opened the doors of its first office in Dhaka. Over the course of this shared history British Council has built strong people-to-people connections between the UK and Bangladesh across English, education, arts and culture.