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Mayor of London joined 200 school girls to celebrate IWD at Southbank Centre

Mayor of London Sadiq Khan celebrated International Women’s Day 2018 with more than 200 school girls as part of Southbank Centre’s WOW – Women of the World festival, supported by Bloomberg.

Mr Khan joined the students, from Essex, West Sussex, Surrey and across London, at the finale of WOW Schools Day, an inspirational event for secondary school girls aged 11-18, which explores gender equality and celebrates activists and campaigners who have changed the world. The Mayor of London discussed the workshops and activities that the girls had taken part in – including learning about suffrage with the Fawcett Society, having designs patented as future inventors with AIG and Green Light for Girls, and learning a protest rock song with Girls Rock London, before coming together for a mass celebratory dance led by London based all female hip hop dance company Myself UK Dance, and South London female DJ collective Born n Bread.

Southbank Centre’s WOW – Women of the World is an annual festival celebrating women and girls, and looking towards a more gender equal future, through a packed programme of over 200 talks, debated, concerts, comedy, and free activities for everyone, 7th-11th March.

The Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, said: “It’s great to be back at WOW – Women of the World, which plays a vital role in inspiring and empowering the next generation of women and girls in London and around the world. As Mayor I want our city to be a trailblazer in the fight for gender equality, and at City Hall we are working hard to remove any barriers preventing the next generation of women in London from reaching their potential. That is why this year and beyond, through my #BehindEveryGreatCity campaign, I pledge to redouble my efforts to fight for gender equality.”

Southbank Centre Chief Executive, Elaine Bedell, said: “Southbank Centre, with its history of celebrating and supporting women, was pleased to welcome the Mayor on International Women’s Day.  As part of his campaign to highlight the many great women behind our great city, it was fantastic that he could meet the 200 budding female stars who are here today as part of our Women of the World schools day and hear their hopes for a future where all obstacles for women will one day be removed.”

Southbank Centre Artistic Director and WOW – Women of the World festival founder, and Jude Kelly CBE, said: “One hundred years since the first women in the U.K. finally won the vote, it gives me great hope to see the Royal Festival Hall Clore Ballroom filled with young girls, workshopping how to use their voices as activists and expressing themselves through song and dance, celebrating what we are and how far we’ve come. Our five-day festival relishes the achievements of girls and women now and in the past, giving us the strength and optimism to see and tackle what remains to be done.”

Now in its eighth year, WOW is the largest global convener of women, reaching nearly two million people in twenty-three cities across six continents. Speakers and performers at this year’s London include Chimamanda Ngozie Adichie, Patrisse Khan-Cullors, Helen Pankhurst, Laura Mvula, Carrie Gracie, Reni Eddo-Lodge, Sandi Toksvig, Ruby Wax, June Sarpong, Stacey Dooley, Munroe Bergdorf and Dame Helena Morrissey.

Also marking International Women’s Day, HRH The Duchess of Cornwall, President of WOW – Women of the World, hosted a reception at Clarence House at noon today to celebrate this year’s festival and the growing WOW movement of women and girls. This was attended by a glittering list of influential women, including Southbank Centre Artistic Director Jude Kelly CBE, Annie Lennox, Kathy Lette, Fatima Manji, Josette Bushell-Mingo, Reni Eddo-Lodge, Baroness Valerie Amos, Jo Swinson MP and Jess Phillips MP.

The Duchess of Cornwall became President of WOW – Women of the World in 2015 and has supported the festival since its inception in 2010 – launching WOW Australia 2012 and WOW Washington 2015.

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