The countdown is on to the Women of the World Festival (WOW) held at the Brisbane Powerhouse from Friday 6 – Sunday 8 April. The event celebrates women of the Commonwealth and is part of the Commonwealth Games cultural program. To help navigate your WOW itinerary, I’ve shared the panels and events we will be attending. If you are heading to WOW or any of the sessions below. Please come and say hi!
Wednesday 4 April
Hot Brown Honey, Powerhouse Theatre
Hot Brown Honey turns up the heat with lashings of sass and a hot pinch of empowerment in the smash-hit, genre defying, firecracker of a show that’s taken the world by storm. Steeped in the Word of The Mother and packing a punch of Hip Hop politics, Hot Brown Honey will make you laugh until you cry, clap until your hands bleed, dance in the aisles and shake every part of what your mama gave you.
With lighting, music and costume set to ignite the change we want to be, Hot Brown Honey is an extraordinary production that spins tradition on its head, going above and beyond to challenge boundaries and embrace resilience. Hot Brown Honey is unapologetically fierce, defiantly shattering preconceptions in an explosion of colour, culture and controversy.
Thursday 5 April – WOW Festival Opening Ceremony and Welcome to Country
Debe Neur — Women of Strength and Beauty, Powerhouse Theatre
WOW at Festival 2018 will kick off with a Traditional Welcome Ceremony for guests by custodian, Songwoman Maroochy Barambah of the Turrbal People. Joined by local community representatives and dancers, Maroochy will then welcome our visiting guest artists from First Nation’s communities of the Commonwealth of Nations, Vou (Fiji), Digging Roots (Canada), Mihirangi (New Zealand) in a call and response, interspersed with local stories unique to the site and region.
This will be followed by a tribute to female creativity, diversity, strength and endurance, some of Australia’s most impressive First Nation female singer-songwriters with their sisters from Canada, New Zealand, Papua New Guinea and Fiji in a powerful and symbolic musical collaboration, as they deconstruct the meaning of ‘beauty’ and appropriate the word to celebrate identity and culture, joy and pain, achievement and hope, and shared experiences as First Nation women.
Debe Neur, translates from Meriam-Mer, Creative Director Ruth Ghee’s language from the Eastern Torres Strait Islands as ‘pretty or good girl’; and features: Emily Wurramara (Aus), Saraima Navara (PNG), Daphanbal Yunipingu (Aus), ShoShona Kish (Canada), Laisa Vulakoro (Fiji) and Mihirangi (NZ).
Free for all two or three day ticket holders, limited places available, register to attend
Friday 6 April
What better way to celebrate WOW than with two of the most influential women in our lives, our Mums. This is what we’re heading to:
9am- 10.30am, Femocracy – Are Our Democracies Failing Women? Powerhouse Theatre
It is defined as ‘government of the people, by the people, for the people’. But look at any democratically elected parliament, and what you see is — middle aged, middle class men. What can we do to make our system of government both more representative of, and more accountable to, the 52% majority in all its diversity. WOW Founder Jude Kelly leads an international panel, including those elected to represent us, to discuss. Speakers will include from Australia Co-Chair of the National Congress of Australia’s First Peoples Dr Jackie Huggins AM, from Malaysia women’s rights campaigner Zainah Anwar, British High Commissioner to Australia Her Excellency Menna Rawlings CMG, and from Canada Senator Kim Pate.
11am – 12.15pm, The Story-Tellers – Cultural Leaders Speak Out, Visy Theatre
Who gets to tell the stories on the big stage? Who gets to decide who our heroes are? And with the fallout from the avalanche of sexual assault and harassment allegations in Hollywood and beyond, how does the cultural economy of the 21st century need to change? In this conversation you will hear the views of leading women cultural leaders and creators including Lee-Ann Tjunypa Buckskin, a Narungga, Wirangu, Wotjobaluk woman well known throughout the Australian Indigenous, and international arts communities, award winning writer Michelle Law musical director, performer and activator Busty Beatz and Juno Award winning Canadian musician ShoShona Kish. Facilitated by Leanne de Souza.
Women everywhere are using their creativity and business skills to build social enterprises that deliver more than a financial return. Others are investing their own dollars in those women making that change. Be inspired by the stories and projects from across the Commonwealth facilitated by Australian entrepreneur and Board Member of Good Shepherd Microfinance Michelle Redfern and including an award winning panel — Gulalai Ismail, Chairperson of AWARE Girls in Pakistan and from Queensland founders of Femeconomy Alanna Bastin-Byrne and Jade Collins.
2.45pm – 4pm, No Boundary Fence – Gender Equality in Regional, Rural and Remote Australia, Powerhouse Theatre
In Australia, the term ‘remote living’ conjures up images of vast red plains, dense rainforests, wide horizons, endless seas and skies — full of adventure and possibility for all comers. What is life really like for the women and girls who live outside our major cities? Join Federal Sex Discrimination Commissioner Kate Jenkins and women from regional, remote and rural Australia to hear about the challenges for women and girls in their worlds, and how they are taking down the boundary fences. Participants will include pastoralist and connector of communities in the Bush Maree Morton, Mayor of Torres Shire Council Vonda Malone, from Bundaberg Curator Trudie Leigo, and the session will be facilitated by ABC Regional Editor for Queensland Cathie Schnitzerling.
4.15pm – 5.30pm, Shame, Powerhouse Theatre
According to psychologists, shame is one of the most destructive emotions in the human kitbag. It has been used for centuries to control the behaviour of women and girls, and people who do not conform to society’s gender expectations. This panel discusses how we can lift the burden of shame. Speakers include author and advocate Jasvinder Sanghera founder of UK charity Karma Nirvana that supports both men and women affected by honour based abuse and forced marriages, award winning Australian author and campaigner Jane Caro and First Nation arts leader Lee-Ann Tjunypa Buckskin contributor to Jane’s 2017 publication ‘Unbreakable’. Facilitated by Director of Grace Street Consulting Balveen Ajimal.
6pm – 6.30pm, J.D ‘Okhai Ojeikere: Hairstyles and Headresses
Southbank Centre’s Hayward Gallery and Of One Mind present the first Australian tour of work by the acclaimed African photographer J.D ‘Okhai Ojeikere for WOW at Festival 2018. J.D ‘Okhai Ojeikere’s Hairstyles series is a unique typological survey, which provides an enduringly beautiful and powerful insight into Nigerian culture. The exhibition will feature over 40 images printed from the original negatives.
7.20pm – 7.50pm, Ghosts of a Goddess, Vulcana Women’s Circus, The Wall – Powerhouse Piazza
An exhilarating vertical performance on the front wall of the Brisbane Powerhouse at dusk, using abseiling and dancing in harnesses. What does it mean to be an icon? Lifted up, looked up to and imitated, then pulled and pushed and devoured as they crack and fall. Be enthralled as the ghosts fly, swing, sail and seduce us.
Saturday 7 April
10am – 11am, WOW Bites, Turbine Studio
- Alanna Bastin-Byrne, Jade Collins, Brooke MacGregor, Chris Figg and Daniela Hernandez celebrate the diversity of the Femeconomy community with 2-minute tales about their different paths to leadership.
- Anisa Nandaula, award-winning Brisbane slam poet on the importance of Standing Up and the power of the spoken word.
- Women from the very remote Aboriginal Community of Lockhart River share their stories.
1pm – 2.15pm, Changing the Story – Ending Male Violence Against Women and Girls, Powerhouse Theatre
What is the true picture of gender based violence across the Commonwealth? Where can we gain the most momentum for change and where are the legal and cultural solutions to the issue of gender based violence. Natasha Stott Despoja founding chair of Our Watch Australia, former politician and former Australian UN Ambassador for women and girls will lead this conversation around government and community led approaches to changing the story for our daughters and sons.
Participants will include from Sri Lanka activist Jayanthi Kuru-Utumpala, from Queensland community activist and campaigner Yasmin Khan and from Guyana/UK author and activist Luke Daniels whose new book Defeating Domestic Violence in the Americas — Men’s Work challenges men to take more responsibility for ending the violence.
2.45pm – 4pm, Times Up – Beyond the #, Powerhouse Theatre
Until a few years ago most people probably didn’t know where the # was on their keyboard — let alone why they would use it! And in 2018, in after #destroythejoint #countingdeadwomen #bringbackourgirls #womensmarch and of course #metoo — it has technically and symbolically united women and men across the globe in calls for action. So we’ve galvanized attention to the treatment of women: now who is creating the solutions? In this session facilitated by the Director of the 50/50 by 2030 Foundation Virginia Haussegger AM women and men in leadership roles talk about the practical and effective changes they are making. Speakers will include Chair of Partners McCullough Robertson Lawyers Dominic McGann and Principal of Nudgee College Peter Fullagar
5.15pm-6pm, Fan Girls, Turbine Platform
A 13-year-old girl told Yve Blake that she would ‘slit someone’s throat to be with the man I love’. She was talking about Harry Styles. Award winning Theatremaker Yve Blake will present a selection of songs from ‘FANGIRLS’, a brand-new musical inspired by interviews with hundreds of teenage fangirls. It’s a story of young women, the stories we tell them, and the ways we underestimate them — with a sound world that is best described as a ‘Beyonce Concert meets Rave meets Church’. Yve’s here to tell us what she found, what a twelve year old girl taught her about womanhood, and why Fangirls are her heroes.
8.30pm – 10.30pm, Up Late – Femioke, Turbine Platform
Feminism + Karaoke = FEMIOKE
Are you going to tell us what you want, what you really, really want? Is it R-E-S-P-E-C-T and no scrubs? Will you survive, do it for yourself (standin’ on your own two feet) or do you just wanna have fun? Are you ***FLAWLESS and do you run the world? Then c’mon people let’s get loud! The event is a space to celebrate, by both singing favourite feminist anthems and taking back misogynist songs. Emceed by local karaoke desperate and avid feminist, Amy-Clare. Hai Si Ja, hold tight! Originally premiered at Metro Arts.
Sunday 8 April
I would love to go to Laugh Out Loud Funky Yoga at 8am, but after a late night at Femioke, I think the chances of making it a quite slim. It is on every morning of WOW.
9.30am – 10.15am, Women and Children First – Why Climate Change is a Feminist Issue, Powerhouse Theatre
Wherever you live in the Commonwealth — sub-Saharan Africa, the delta in Bangladesh, the coral atolls of the Pacific or regional Australia — climate change is making itself felt in communities, and especially in the lives of women and children. But women are also at the forefront of responses around the world. These amazing women will bring a gender lens to climate change and its impacts, to suggest how this can be changed. Speakers will include from Fiji Sharon Bhagwan Rolls founder of femLINKpacific, Mayor Vonda Malone of the Torres Shire Council and from Griffith University Research Scientist Esther Onyango. Facilitated by former Australia Greens Deputy Leader and Queensland Senator Larissa Waters.
11.15am – 12.30pm, The Rules of the Game, Powerhouse Theatre
It’s a long time since Billy Jean King beat Bobby Riggs, and proved that a woman could beat a man at tennis. This is the first Commonwealth Games in which the same number of gold medals are up for grabs for women and men. New professional women’s competitions in Rugby Union Sevens, Australian Rules Football, Twenty-Twenty Cricket and more have been established and are thriving. So what’s next on the sports agenda for women? Join Dr Louise Martin CBE President of the Commonwealth Games Federation and leading sports women including from the Queensland Firebirds Caitlyn Nevins and Australian and Brisbane Heat and Queensland Fast Bowler Holly Ferling, Brisbane Lionsplayer Sabrina Frederick- Traub, facilitated by Deputy Chair of the Brisbane Lions Sarah Kelly.
1.15pm – 2.30pm, Grandmothers Know Best – Celebrating the Wisdom of Our Elders, Powerhouse Theatre
Wise-women and matriarchs, or witches, hags and crones? The position of older women, and how they are treated in the family and community varies across cultures. But whether they have lived their lives on the global stage, or tended their families on a farm or in a village, they have worked for better lives for their daughters and grand-daughters, and have amassed a life-time of insights in the process.
In this session, former Governor General of Australia and WOW Australia Patron Quentin Bryce speaks with some remarkable elders and grandmothers about the place of older women in their communities — and why it is that grandmothers really do know best. Facilitated by the Director of the 50/50 by 2030 Foundation Virginia Haussegger AM and including from Bougainville leading human rights advocate Agnes Titus, and Jawoyn leader and traditional owner from Katherine in the Northern Territory Lisa Mumbin.
2.45pm – 3.45pm, Marketplace Healing Space
An integral part of any WOW, the marketplace will feature artists, businesses, social enterprises and women’s organisations from Queensland and the Pacific. You will be able to join a circle of weavers, sample beauty products made from traditional bush medicine techniques and ingredients for the Northern Territory, or purchase screen-printed fabrics and unique artwork. And when you need a break from shopping, sample locally grown and brewed coffee whilst you select from the tastes of the Commonwealth to satisfy your cravings! The Healing Space will bring together traditional healing practices. From morning Yoga to meditation, Festival attendees will be able to participate in a combination of information sessions and healing demonstrations, bush medicines, and beauty products in a purpose built ‘venue’ on the performance lawn. Festival goers will also be able to book in for one-on-one treatments at an additional cost.
4pm – 5.30pm, The Future is Female, Powerhouse Theatre
Young people (29 years or younger) make up sixty percent of the population in Commonwealth member countries. In one of the final sessions of WOW at Festival 2018, young women from Australia and around the Commonwealth have a chance to shape the agenda for the future. In a conversation with the Founder of WOW Jude Kelly and The Secretary-General Commonwealth, The Rt Hon Patricia Scotland QC, they will present many of the ideas that have emerged from consultations and the WOW weekend on what has to happen for all our futures to build a world in which gender equality is truly recognised as a basic human right, in the home, in the community and in society as a whole.
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