Queensland will host the Women of the World (WOW) festival, celebrating the women of the Commonwealth in the lead-up to the 2018 Commonwealth Games.

The three-day event, which aims to connect, inspire and empower women and girls from around the Commonwealth to make change in their lives and communities, will be held in Brisbane in early 2018.

To be staged at the Brisbane Powerhouse, WOW will feature workshops, markets, exhibitions, performances, film screenings, concerts and more. Speakers will include well-known leaders and ‘change-makers’ in politics, arts, science and sports.

Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk’s government will partner with London’s Southbank Centre and the Brisbane-based non-profit organisation Of One Mind to present the event.

“WOW will form part of the broader GC2018 arts and cultural program, ensuring the benefits of the Games extend far beyond the 11 days of sport and continue well into the future,” the Premier said.

“The event encourages frank discussions about the barriers which prevent females from reaching their full potential, along with identifying possible solutions to overcome these challenges.

“I’m immensely proud to support WOW, which will showcase the achievements of women and girls, their stories, challenges and creativity, as well as the extraordinary diversity of Commonwealth cultures and traditions.”

The event will place a particular focus on women and girls living in remote and regional parts of Queensland, as well as South-East Asia and the Pacific.

“We’re thrilled to act alongside the Commonwealth Games Federation in its capacity as a world leader and inspiration in addressing the ongoing challenge of gender inequality,” the Premier said.

“On a global scale, WOW is smashing glass ceilings when it comes to gender inequality and this is something the Queensland Government is committed to supporting by welcoming the event to Brisbane.

“The momentum created by WOW will continue through the Games, which will be the first in the history of major multi-sports games to have an equal number of men’s and women’s medal events.

“I’d encourage all Queenslanders with a passion for arts, culture and celebrating women to support this event. WOW is for everyone and is guaranteed to be an uplifting, fun and life-changing experience.”

Originating in London in 2010, WOW is now staged in 15 locations across five continents. The first WOW event in Brisbane was staged in 2015, and WOW Melbourne will be held later this year.

Jude Kelly, the creator of WOW and the artistic director of London’s Southbank Centre, said she is thrilled to work with women in Queensland to deliver the first WOW event to be aligned with the Commonwealth Games.

“The diverse traditions and cultures, and the contrasting and shared experiences for women and girls within this huge global community, will contribute to a fascinating and life-changing WOW program in 2018,” she said.

“The Commonwealth currently has a strong focus on improving opportunities for women and girls including economic empowerment, strengthening women’s leadership and ending violence against women and girls. WOW is a means to stimulate action and change towards these objectives.

“As the largest single community of women in the world, we’re looking forward to bringing the global WOW phenomenon to Queensland again.”

The Gold Coast 2018 Commonwealth Games will run from 4 to 15 April 2018; dates have yet to be announced for the WOW event.