Women of the World is a festival where people of all ages and backgrounds can celebrate women’s achievements but also examine the obstacles that prevent them from achieving their full potential and contributing to the world. For the 2015 edition, historian Bettany Hughes and writer Charlotte Higgins discuss the lost heroines of the prehistoric and ancient worlds – women who were either wonderful or about whom we should wonder, from mother goddesses to Medea, Aphrodite to Cleopatra.

Charlotte Higgins is chief culture writer at The Guardian and a member of its editorial board. This New Noise, a book based on her nine-part series of essays on the BBC, is to be published by Guardian-Faber in June 2015. Higgins began her career in journalism on Vogue magazine in 1995 and moved to The Guardian in 1997, where she has worked as classical music editor and arts correspondent. A classicist by education, she is the author of three books on aspects of the ancient world. The most recent, Under Another Sky: Journeys in Roman Britain (Vintage, 2014), was shortlisted for the Samuel Johnson prize for non-fiction.

Dr. Bettany Hughes is an award-winning historian, author and broadcaster. She was awarded this year’s Distinguished Friend of Oxford Award for outstanding services to the academic life of the university and commitment to public engagement. She lectures around the world and is a passionate believer in the value of communicating ideas about humanity’s past to a broad international audience. Her television programmes such as Divine Women and Athens: the Truth About Democracy have now been seen by over 250 million people worldwide. Bettany regularly presents on Radio 4, most prominently with her series The Ideas That Make Us Human which looks at the power of philosophy in ordinary lives. Her latest book, The Hemlock Cup is a New York Times bestseller, while Helen of Troy: Goddess, Princess, Whore has now been translated into 10 languages. Bettany is currently writing and filming a new BBC series about the lives of Socrates, Buddha and Confucius, and is writing a new history of Istanbul.

WOW is bold and broad-based in its approach, both lively and serious, and feeds the demand to discuss anything and everything. It presents the very best of recognised and emerging female talent across all fields including politics, the arts, economics, fashion, science, health, sport, business and education, and is made up of keynotes, talks, debates, performances, gigs, free music, a marketplace, speed-mentoring, a crèche, exhibitions, workshops, networking opportunities and more.