Audacious Women Festival to encourage and celebrate “bad-ass” women

Eclectic programme of events in Edinburgh will invite women to be audacious in their own ways

FOR THE THIRD year running, Edinburgh’s week-long Audacious Women Festival will kick off on February 22, with a programme which will dare the women of Scotland to step outside of their comfort zone – and celebrate the audacious women who do.

From riding a motorbike or building a website, to singing or song writing, to discussing body image or planning a big change in your life, to a workshop on “how to be a bad-ass” in male dominated workplaces, the varied programme has something for everyone.

The rallying cry to participants: “Do what you always wish you’d dared.”

"There are personal, political, and institutional issues which prevent women from fulfilling their potential." Sally Wainwright, Audacious Women Festival founder

Recent months have brought centre stage the importance of women’s ability to reclaim spaces, and with them, their voices, in a world where they are still too often pushed to the margins and drowned out.

Sally Wainwright, founder of the Audacious Women Festival said the relevance of what the festival is trying to achieve is more palpable than ever. “If you look at what’s happening with women standing up for themselves for the first time through Me Too and Time’s Up, this is what we’ve been trying on a smaller basis,” she said.

“We know there are personal, political, and institutional issues for women which prevent them from fulfilling their potential.”

From the pay gap, to representation in public life and senior roles, to stark examples of sexual harassment such as the Presidents Club, Wainwright said the evidence of these issues is in abundance.

While the festival is not addressing these issues specifically, Wainright explained, it remains situated within this context and is based on the premise of “women empowering themselves”.

“A few years ago, a friend said to me ‘I did something today and it made feel really audacious’, and we thought, wouldn’t it be great to do something to help other women do the same?” Wainwright said.

“It’s essential for women to have a safe space in which to develop and grow." Sally Wainwright, Audacious Women Festival founder 

What this means could be different for every individual, Wainwright explained: “For me personally, something I always wanted to do from a young age was to join in community sing-songs.

“I’ve only recently done this, and that was really scary and important for me, so that was an audacious act. For other people, that wouldn’t be audacious.”

This is why the programme seeks to be eclectic, with the underpinning theme of “trying something audacious”.

The fact that the festival remains focussed on fun rather than the explicitly political issues, she said, is one of its strengths.

Wainwright said that the women who attended the events in previous years fed back that they felt they could “do anything” after overcoming their fears, and that the women supported each other both during and after the festival.

While the celebrations are for a mixed audience, the workshops are all women only, providing what Wainwright said are much needed opportunities for women to build their confidence. “It’s essential for women to have a safe space in which to develop and grow in a women only environment,” she said.

For more information on the festival and to book tickets, visit the Audacious Women Festival website. 

Picture courtesy of Audacious Women Festival

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