There is one day in the year when the whole world celebrates the greatness, strength and beauty of being a woman: International Women’s Day.

Events, videos, images, articles, social trends: everywhere you look around / click, on the 8th of March you will be reminded that, while in some countries, unfortunately, being female is still seen as shameful or weak, this is the opposite of the truth.

Women of the World Festival, at the Southbank Centre in London this year offered six days packed with inspirational stories, literary talks, current issues debates, a networking marketplace, and musical performances. t! About Town was among the audience of some of the events.

Women of the World Festival

More equality is one of the goals we are seeking. But every day, women show how powerful they are not just in career terms, but by their inner strength and the sensibility that only comes from being female.

Racheal Ofori – Portrait

“Magic mirror on the wall, who is the fairest one of all?” How often we look at our image without saying a single word, but actually thinking “Will I be the best-looking person at the party?”

A storm of adolescent (and other) thoughts arrived at the Women of the World Festival on the 8th and 9th of March. Racheal Ofori attends one of the counselling sessions she has been advised to take at school, while her mind revolves the many problems faced by a black teenager today.

Why doesn’t she talk about them all with the teacher who is there to help her? Because all the adult white woman would say is: “It’s true, the world we are living in is difficult and unfair, but how can we change it?” And Racheal does not really know what a teenager like her can do to change things.

From getting into a good university – because of her parents’ expectations for her degree – to the beauty and make-up challenges a woman cannot avoid. From the selfies in the club’s bathroom, to the hard work of finding the right partner. Not only words, but music and dance helped Racheal to tell the story of an everyday girl, in an ordinary confusing world.

Women On the Move Awards

“If you are not doing it, that will stay with you. So keep going: no one else would change things instead of you,” said Mariam Yusuf, winner of the Woman of the Year Award 2016.

Mariam arrived in the UK from Somalia in 2008. Not speaking a word of English, separated from her children, and thrown into a complicated asylum system which included time spent in Yarl’s Wood detention centre, Mariam still kept her head high. She now lives in Manchester, where she supports other women seeking asylum and campaigns for refugees’ rights.

Seada Fekadu’s dream is to become a doctor one day, “to help even more people.” Seada, winner of the Young Woman of the Year Award 2016, is now 21, but she arrived in the country from Eritrea when she was only 16. She couldn’t speak English at first, but, like Mariam, Seada is now rebuilding her life as a mentor and advocate for other children who experience her same journey.

“What we have seen tonight in one hour, is a good summary of one whole year” was the final comment by Zrinka Bralo, founder of the Women on the Move awards, during the ceremony on Friday evening.

Integration, cultural differences, and welcoming organizations. The event, presented by Samira Ahmed, was a celebration of the extraordinary energy and work done by courageous women refugees and asylum seekers.

Champion Award 2016: Citizens UK

Women on the Move - Jackie Long (1)

Sue Lloyd-Roberts Media Award 2016: Jackie Long – Inside Yarl’s Wood, in collaboration with Lee Sorrell Media

WOW Poetry Literature Social

During the lively Saturday evening at the WOW Festival, 3 women, different not only in age, but most importantly with different backgrounds and stories to tell, stood on the stage reading poetry.

WOW Poetry Literature Social

An extraordinary proof, if we still need one, of how verses and rhymes enable us to express the happy and sad moments in our lives. And how good women are at it!

“You don’t choose to be a writer. It comes as you go,” said Jean ‘Binta’ Breeze. The Verandah Poems, her latest published collection, unfolds the poet’s thoughts and experiences from her verandah in Jamaica: from the departure of her daughter back in the UK, to the family life in the house.

While studying Economics at University, Hollie McNish was just writing her diaries. Along with her passion for rhymes and music, she ended up writing for a wider audience than herself. Nobody Told Me grew as her pregnancy went on, and then her baby kept on inspiring her.

Strong, deep friendship between girls should be cherished in the same way as romantic relationships. Rebecca Perry tries to fill the lack of stories about teenagers through the verses of her Beauty/Beauty.

Literature, graphic novels, comedies: the series of talks for WOW Socials 2016 threw light on women’s words and drawings. Another celebration that inspires!