KARACHI: I’m thrilled that WOW Karachi is happening. It was always a dream when the festival started six years ago that one of the places we’d be doing it in would be Pakistan.
This was said by Jude Kelly, founder of the Women of the World (WOW) Festival as she addressed journalists via Skype at an event organised at a local hotel by the British Council to inform them about the main features of the festival which is going to take place on May 1 at the Beach Luxury Hotel.
Ms Kelly said she started the festival six years back because she felt that while in some parts of the world gender equality had been achieved, there were other parts where it was not the case. She said women shared problems and it was not specific to any region. The areas she identified where work needed to be done were health, education and law. She said she was thrilled that WOW Karachi was happening, adding that it could be a game changer not just for Pakistan but for the world.
Robin Davies, British Council’s area director for Balochistan and Sindh said at the very centre of the council’s values were, what he called, EDI (equality, diversity and inclusion). He said as far as gender equality was concerned, there were roles and behaviours shaped by culture and socialisation. He said women were more marginalised and discriminated against than men. He said his team members were really excited about the WOW Festival. He said it’s a daylong but not a one-off event, for it was part of the continuum of EDI. He also talked about the four other areas where the British Council was working to help EDI.
Mr Davies said the British Council did not just preach EDI but actually did it and encouraged others to do it to work towards a just and equitable society with opportunities for all. He said they were grateful to Jude Kelly for bringing the festival to South Asia and were proud that she chose Karachi for the purpose. He thanked all the key partners for working towards the big [festival] day. He said they were looking forward to a stimulating day, stimulating debates and perhaps a stimulating change.
Sumbul Khan, the arts director at the British Council, told the guests about the genesis of the event. She said it all began in London in 2011 on the occasion of International Women’s Day to highlight the issues faced by women. She said in January this year the council gathered 80 women from different spheres of life for consultation to discuss the topics which could be highlighted during the festival. She said some of the problems brought up by them were harassment at the workplace, inadequate public transport, lack of health and education facilities etc.
Keeping all these things in mind, she said, Karachi was chosen as the city for the WOW Festival to be held on May 1. She said prominent individuals who had worked in those fields would meet the women at the festival to advise them on how to bring about a change in their lives. She also mentioned names of the local partners who are working alongside the council for the festival.
Rahma Mian gave an account of the different sessions that are going to be held at the event and spoke about the eminent people (Mukhtar Mai, Sheema Kermani, Tina Sani, Attiya Dawood) who are going to take part in it.
Aatiqua F. Lateef, CEO of TAF Foundation (one of the partners), talked about the importance and her foundation’s dedication to women empowerment.
Replying to a question, Sumbul Khan said the organisers thought the hotel was centrally located and visitors would find it easy to reach it.