In cooperation with the British Council Nepal, the Janakpur Women’s Development Center (JWDC) carried out several activities during the WOW (Women of the World) Festival Madhesh, which was held in Janakpur on December 6th and 7th, 2019. The focus of the event was to bring awareness of issues related to gender inequality in Madhesh (the plains region of Nepal, bordering India).The event opened with an exercise routine led by artists of the JWDC on a stage set up at the Janaki Mandir, Janakpur’s famous temple. The crowd was energized with the exercises that involved lifting colorful papier maché dumbbells made by JWDC artists.

On the premises of Ram Mandir in Janakpur, visitors enjoyed playing an artistically transformed snakes and ladders game. The game, painted on large squares that were placed on the ground, alerted players to gender related issues in Madhesh. It posed questions about what should be done to solve the issues, particularly those related to dowry. JWDC artists also led a Mithila painting workshop at the handicraft center of the JWDC. Girls and women from surrounding villages of Janakpur participated in the workshop, which was designed to transfer valuable skills that are no longer practiced as before. (In the past, young women used to learn from their mother and other female relatives how to make paintings on the mud walls of their houses. Sadly, the tradition has died.) 

The WOW festrival was founded by Jude Kelly, Artistic Director at Southbank Center, the UK’s largest arts center. The WOW festival has been organized in over 20 countries. The first edition in Nepal was held in 2017 in Kathmandu. The JWDC performed a unique drama that depicted the transformation of the women’s lives through their work as artists and held an exhibition of art and crafts. Artist Manjula Thakur served as a mentor in the speed-mentoring program.