WOW – Women of the World to showcase emerging girl bands from across the world on International Day of the Girl

Young Leaders Directory of inspiring girl and non-binary activists also announced for 11th October

In celebration of International Day of the Girl 2021 (11th October), WOW – Women of the World, run by UK charity The WOW Foundation, will present a WOW Sounds music programme showcasing a line-up of girl bands from across the world. Girl bands have a long legacy of creating genre-defying music and shattering gender norms; this is a new generation of young people continuing to challenge the gender disparity and racism in the music industry. 

Recent studies show how underrepresented women are in the industry: a landmark US survey reported that from 2019 to 2020, female artists fell from 22.5% to 20.2%; female songwriters decreased from 14.4% to 12.9%; and female producers declined from 5% to just 2%. The research also took a representative sample of 600 songs between 2012 and 2020, of 23 individual women credited as producers just seven were women of colour, resulting in an overall ratio of one woman of colour to every 180 male producers. 

WOW Sounds is WOW’s dedicated music programme to champion such under represented artists, and features girls, women, and non-binary musicians from across the world, all of whom are using their music to create social change and further the feminist movement. This International Day of the Girl curated WOW Sounds programme will celebrate and connect young women and non-binary artists around the world

UK acts will include DIY girl band Breakup Haircut; a new London girl band fronted by Nadia Javed from The Tuts; spoken word artists Zahra Ahmad and Rakaya Fetuga, put forward by Muslim community organisation Maslaha who seek to change and challenge the conditions that create inequalities for the Muslim community. International acts include Indonesian metal band Voice of Baceprot; Sri Lankan acoustic trio The Singing Potatoes; Roma girl band Pretty Loud from Serbia; and a girl band project Naytive Mentorship led by Australian rapper and songwriter Naomi Wenitong, who will be appearing in partnership with WOW Australia.

Each performance will be released as a pre-recorded exclusive short set including an introduction about the artist’s activism. The UK acts have all been filmed at EartH Hackney. Each performance will be distributed via WOW’s IGTV and YouTube on 11th October. 

The artists:

  • Breakup Haircut formed for First Timers 2019 have been described as ‘instantly charming,’ ‘a mix of nihilism and slapstick guaranteed to put a smile on your face’ and a ‘pop punk version of the Scooby Doo gang.’ They make scuzzy and melodic punk. Their last EP ‘What did you expect? I got it off the internet!’ was full of delicious basslines and angsty vocals. 
  • Half Pakistani, half Indian Nadia Javed is a self taught guitarist. She writes songs and sings in her band The Tuts. For WOW Sounds she is pulling together a new girl band – featuring some of London’s fiercest female musicians including Christabel Williams and Ishani Jasmin. Nadia is an awesome activist – her music tackles abuse in the music industry, lack of representation of women of colour in festival line ups and #MeToo. 
  • Maslaha seeks to change and challenge the conditions that create inequalities for Muslim communities in areas such as education, gender, criminal justice, negative media coverage and a continued climate of Islamaphobia. Zahra Ahmad is a performance poet based in London, her writing focuses on themes including identity, mental health, friendship and navigating life as a Muslim British-Bangladeshi woman of colour. Her energetic stage presence and fierce wordplay keep you hooked to her spiralling narratives and myriad images. Rakaya Fetuga is a poet, facilitator and events producer based in London. Her work joins conversations on overlapping identities faith and culture as self-affirmation. Since winning the Roundhouse Poetry Slam, Rakaya debuted her monodrama, Unbraided, at the Roundhouse Last Word Festival 2021. Voice Of Baceprot – often abbreviated as VOB – are an Indonesian all-girl rock band formed in Garut, West Java in 2014. Consisting of three young girls, Firdda Marsya Kurnia (vocals and guitar), Widi Rahmawati (bass), and Euis Siti Aisyah (drums), the word “baceprot” from their band name comes from the Sundanese language meaning “loud”. 
  • The Singing Potatoes are an all-girl acoustic band in Sri Lanka. Best friends from school Harini Dias, Chinthani Senevirathne and Shenali Kirindagamage have been playing together since 2010. They follow a wide variety of genres starting from Alternate rock, Indie rock, pop, RnB to classical, jazz and many more. Their objective is to contribute positively to the Sri Lankan music industry and to write songs to support women.
  • Pretty Loud is a pioneering girl band from the Roma community created in Serbia by a group of young women aged between 14-26 in the educational and artistic workshops of the GRUBB organisation. Pretty Loud is breaking moulds by creating their own unique music and speaking out for the next generation of Roma women. They proudly blend rap and hip hop with their traditional Roma music. They are passionate about putting an end to stereotypes about both Roma people and women through their powerful lyrics.
  • Trinity – from Naytive Mentorship are part of the Deadly Inspiring Youth Doing Good Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Corporation (DIYDG), which is a youth-led organisation aiming to inspire, equip and inspire the next generation to take action that changes their world. Naytive Mentorship is designed and delivered by ARIA Award nominated professional singer/rapper/songwriter Naomi Wenitong. Formerly of the pop duo Shakaya and current member of the group The Last Kinection, their aim is to empower young people to share their story through song and provide a deeper level of mentorship for those who wish to embark on a professional career in music. ‘Trinity’ is a trio of First Nations young women formed through the Naytive mentorship project run in low socio-economic areas in Cairns, Australia. 

Since 2012, 11th October has been marked as International Day of the Girl to highlight and address the needs and challenges girls face, whilst also promoting girls’ achievements and the fulfilment of their human rights. WOW has marked the day with celebrations and mentoring since the beginning.

As part of their International Day of the Girl celebrations, WOW have today also announced plans to release the next edition of their Young Leaders Directory. The directory includes over 40 girl and non-binary activists aged 11-19 who are known for their work – both in their home countries and globally – in areas including climate justice, period poverty, girls education, sexual violence, disability, race, health and more. Presented in partnership with Purposeful, WOW will hold two private virtual convenings to bring together these activists to connect, share ideas and learn from one another to help establish a new network. A global online directory will be published on the WOW website to provide these 40 activists with a platform to share their work with girls all over the world. The inaugural global directory, launched in 2020, can be accessed here.

WOW’s other activity around International Day of the Girl includes their annual speed mentoring session on the London Eye on 8th October, where 150 girls and 150 mentors will take to the sky for 15-minute sessions to explore their dreams and aspirations. 

The schoolgirls, aged between 14-18, are paired with highly influential and inspiring women mentors from across a range of professions and industries including science, film, media, engineering, sport, politics, transport, fashion, and campaigning. Previous mentors have included: Gillian Anderson, Justine Greening, Natascha McElhone, Riz Lateef, Dianne Abbot, Siân Berry, and Clara Amfo.

WOW will also present WOWsers: A Creative Explosion, an exhibition supported by BBC Children In Need’s impact programme focused on children’s mental health, A Million & Me. Over the past 10 months, more than 70 girls and non-binary people aged 10-16 years old from across the UK have worked with WOW and more than 20 artists and experts. The project encouraged participants to explore activism and gender equality in a fun and accessible way. Meeting monthly online to discuss the issues that matter most to them, they have created artworks as a result, spanning photography, film, spoken word, poster making and drawing. The exhibition will launch on 11 October to celebrate International Day of the Girl, and will be available to the public to explore on WOW’s website

Collaborators who have worked with the girls as part of the project include: poet Amina Atiq, musician Miss Jacqui, director Emily Aboud, artist Ditty, Young Leaders Directory activist Theresa Rose Sebastian, artist Greer Pester, writer Amanda Amaeshi, and broadcaster Gemma Cairney

WOW Festivals began in the UK in 2010, launched by Jude Kelly at the Southbank Centre London, where she was then Artistic Director. Through festivals, events, and more across the global, WOW celebrates women, girls, and non-binary people, and takes a frank look at what prevents them from achieving their potential; raising awareness globally of the issues they face, and discussing solutions together. WOW, now run by UK charity The WOW Foundation in partnership with organisations across the world, is a global movement for gender equality.

The WOW Foundation is proudly supported by its Global Founding Partner Bloomberg, and Global Partner Mastercard.

Written By: Samantha Montague

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