The community is abuzz about the festival’s second year on campus
By Jae Bradley
On Saturday, April 28, our very own Notre Dame of Maryland University is set to present Baltimore’s Women of the World (WOW) Festival for the second consecutive year. The event is a local iteration of an international festival that premiered in London in 2010 in honor of the 100th anniversary of International Women’s Day.
WOW Festival was established by Southbank Centre Artistic Director Jude Kelly to foster conversation about what it takes to build a future where women and girls can enjoy an equal society. The festival also celebrates the achievements of women and girls as pioneers of their respective fields and as champions of social change. For NDMU, an institution founded to educate women and prepare them to leave lasting positive change in the world, it is an honor to host the speakers, staff, volunteers, and visitors to this year’s festival.
Students like Shaunice White, a junior digital media arts major, are amped up and ready for this year’s festival after having attended the previous one in October 2016. White anticipates that the variety of this year’s workshops, panels, and other segments will “create a sense of familiarity and belonging” among members of and visitors to the Baltimore community. She is looking forward to an even more enjoyable experience than the last, having seen what she considers an impressive and diverse list of guest speakers and performers. For instance, this year’s keynote speakers include: Tarana Burke, founder of the #MeToo movement that has encouraged victims of sexual assault and harassment to speak up and stand together; Roxane Gay, social critic and writer of Bad Feminist and World of Wakanda; and Jill Smokler, bestselling author and founder of the content writers’ platform, Scary Mommy.
This year’s speaker lineup is primed for a modern audience of women, and visitors can expect a festival with something substantial to take away. Not only will attendees hear from influential figures in the realm of social science, but also science experts like Dr. Kate Biberdorf, a chemist who advocates for women pursuing careers in science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM), and performers like the Sociedad Cultural Tradiciones Bolivianas and QueenEarth.
While some students are excited to hear from panelists and participate in speed mentoring, others are eager to see more women’s issues represented in the future. For example, CJ Nwokeabia, a junior mathematics student, would like to see events specifically designed to reach the LGBT+ and disabled communities, populations whose histories and voices, while increasingly included, are still often left out of the work and language of activism and academia.
Wherever students stand on the issue of adequate representation, it’s clear there is a little bit of something for everybody to enjoy, or at the very least learn from. With a program that presents a variety of topics from sex positivity to the business of food in Baltimore, WOW Festival Baltimore will no doubt appeal to a wide audience.
More information on WOW Festival Baltimore can be found at http://www.wow-baltimore.org. A volunteer interest form can be found on the website, for those interested in helping this event run smoothly and successfully.
Photo by courtesy of NDMU and Micah Castelo