07.03.2016 - UNESCO Office in Dakar

Music is also a women’s affair


Equality between men and women is an issue which arises in the music industry, especially within musician unions. Job opportunities for women in the music industry are less significant in comparison to other sectors.

Women amount for less than 30% in most jobs related to music reflecting a strong gender division in the different West Africans countries in the music industry. For instance, 90% of women are either costume designers or hairdressers and 60% of them are choreographers. There is also a bigger percentage of back-up singers, singers and dancers rather than instrumentalists. This is the reason why there is a large number of women involved in Gospel. Yet, this information only appears through statements instead of actual surveys, which lack in this sector.

"However, Guinea has a specificity quite remarkable because the country is committed to a proactive policy since its independence in 1958, which encourages instrumentalist’s women through trainings. Those women trainings became world famous, so that women's image as instrumentalists is unique and highly valued in this country. This is the case of the Amazons or Dauphines.” Highlighted Mr. Dayan, General Secretary of the International Federation of Musicians (FIM).

The debate

In order to address these issues, to improve the working conditions of women in the music sector and to provide a better representation of their interests as performers, the IFM supported by the Swedish syndicate (Union to Union) and the musicians syndicate (SMF), and AMS met with delegates of 8 sub-regional countries in Dakar from 11st to 13rd January 2016. The 8 countries were: Burkina Faso, Cameroun, Côte d’Ivoire, Guinée, Niger, RCA, Sénégal and Togo.

The discussion helped address a couple of questions such as reconciliation between private and professional life that affect some women in the music industry, access to music related jobs, and moral and physical harassment.

The Declaration of Dakar

« It is together that we can build things » At the end of this sub-regional workshop, the delegates from the 8 countries made several commitments that aim to recognize and protect women working in the music industry. This principle of equality is translated into actions that insure better conditions for women in this sector with a focus on: access to and working conditions in musical jobs; prevention of and protection against violence at work; participation and active involvement of women in musician organizations, including their direction. Read the Declaration

Radio program

January 13th, Alioune Diop of « RSI mornings » hosted participants of the workshop to speak on these topics.

On the air:

  • Guillaume Kouassi Konan from the Côte d’Ivoire Musicians’ Association;
  • Fatou Sow, Sociologist;
  • Fatimata Mariko from the Niger Musicians’ Association;
  • Adamou Akouba, Secretary of the Music Jobs ‘Union in Niger;
  • Thomas Dayan, Assistant Secretary of IFM
  • Guiomar Alonso, Chief of Culture Unit, UNESCO Dakar.

Listen to the debate here

Consult the Report on Gender Equality and Culture

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