Jude Kelly CBE, CEO and Founder of The WOW Foundation, visited John Laing’s offices to stress the importance of confronting gender based injustice across the globe. Jude highlighted the important roles that both men and women have to play in tackling gender inequality, adding that it is crucial to celebrate progress in women’s rights while acknowledging that there is further progress to be made. She shared startling facts, such as that women were not allowed to sign cheques until 1974 and that, even today, women in the UK at the age of 65 are on average five times poorer than men of a similar age. Jude finished by encouraging her audience to think about what they could do as individuals to have an impact, both at home and in their working lives.
Jude Kelly CBE is Founder and CEO of The WOW Foundation which runs WOW – Women of the World Festivals – to celebrate the achievements of women and girls and to confront gender injustice across the globe.
Having started out in London in 2010, the Festival now takes place in 30 locations across six continents. In 2018 Jude established The WOW Foundation, an independent charity dedicated to building the WOW movement as a force for positive change.
Jude Kelly was the Artistic Director of Southbank Centre in London for 12 years from 2006 to 2018, where she established the WOW Festival. Southbank Centre is Europe’s largest Arts Institution and London’s third biggest tourist attraction. In February 2013 she was named as one of the 100 most powerful women in the UK by BBC Radio 4’s Woman’s Hour.
Jude has directed over 200 theatre and opera productions, is the recipient of two Olivier Awards for theatre, a BASCA Gold Badge Award winner for contribution to music, a Southbank Award for her opera work, an RPO award for her festival The Rest is Noise, Red Magazine’s 2014 Creative Woman of the Year, CBIs 2016 First Woman Award winner for Tourism and Leisure and in 2017 won the inaugural Veuve Clicquot Woman of the Year Social Purpose Award. Kelly’s talk at a 2016 TED conference, Why women should tell the stories of humanity, has been viewed more than 1.2million times to date.
Her work over many years has centred around the impact of arts and culture in democratising public space, and the importance of female experiences in shaping the built environment.
She was a judge for the Stirling Prize 2018 and is currently undertaking a research project on the gender bias and ethical standards of city developments as part of her role as Practitioner in Residence at The LSEs Marshall Institute.
In 2019 she co-founded SmartPurse, a financial toolkit to support women to become confident about money and protect themselves from financial vulnerability.