Activist Ina-Maria Shikongo heads to WOW Manchester

Photos: Steffen List and Martha Mukaiwa

Environmental activist and artist Ina-Maria Shikongo’s ‘Womenity’ is heading to the Women of the World (WOW) Festival in Manchester this weekend.

The festival brings together a selection of inspiring artists, speakers, musicians and activists to discuss gender inequality issues while celebrating the voices and achievements of women, girls and non-binary people.

This year’s line-up includes Mel B, Zawe Ashton and Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe.

Attendees are invited to engage in a programme filled with workshops, discussions, installations and a marketplace.

“As I take the stage at WOW Manchester, my presence is not just an exhibition — it’s a revelation. With an installation that pulses with the heartbeat of marginalised women and workshops that ignite the flames of empowerment, I am more than an artist — I am a catalyst for revolution,” says Shikongo.

Retooling old clothing and offcuts that define her signature sustainable textile art, Shikongo’s ‘Womenity’, which is commissioned by the Commonwealth Foundation, tells the story of a woman as she moves through the natural world.

The work is inspired by Manchester’s textile mills, the lingering realities of colonialism and by local fabrics.

“Each thread, each brushstroke, is a declaration of solidarity, a testament to the indomitable spirit of those who refuse to be silenced. In the crucible of creativity, we forge bonds of resilience, building a world where women are not just seen but celebrated,” Shikongo says.

Markedly featured in Greta Thunberg’s ‘The Climate Book’ (2022) and notable for her calls to preserve the Okavango Delta, Shikongo’s activism is intersectional.

Describing WOW Manchester as a vessel for personal growth and collective empowerment, Shikongo looks forward to the experience.

“It’s a space where ideas collide, sparking new insights and catalysing action. As I embark on this journey, I do so not only as an artivist and educator, but also as a humble pupil, eager to absorb the lessons that will fortify our shared vision of a fairer, more equitable world,” she says.

“My foremost aspiration is to amplify the voices of marginalised communities, particularly indigenous women. Through my art and activism, I aim to shine a spotlight on their struggles, triumphs and enduring resilience,” Shikongo says.

“Together, we can forge a brighter future, where justice reigns and dignity is the birthright of all,” she says.

–; Martha Mukaiwa on Twitter and Instagram;

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