Music freedom day was kickstarted by the international organisation Freemuse on the 3rd of March. It’s a day of advocacy for musicians and audiences to advance freedom of expression. Everyone has the right to music, both as a mechanism of expression and enjoyment - to carry out their craft without fear of oppression, imprisonment or censorship. More than 100 partners and 30 countries worldwide have joined the event which has been a flourishing tool to raise awareness for the rights of musicians in an increasingly polarized world.
This year, Music Freedom day is focusing on the protection of women’s voices. Did you know...
In Saudi Arabia and Iran, women performers are not allowed to sing solo or play instruments in public. In north-western Pakistan women singers have been killed and attacked, and in several countries women performers are socially, culturally and economically marginalised and even considered prostitutes.
Globally women musicians face especially difficult conditions and are often subject to industry discrimination, sexual objectification and significantly less bookings than male musicians.
To drive awareness, Freemuse are encouraging audiences to share an article, censored song or make a statement on March 3rd - more information here.
And in light of this, I wanted to focus on Afghanistan and a couple of inspiring discoveries that women have made in music.
The Afghanistan music scene has suffered in the decades of the 20th Century due to war, musicians having been exiled and the Taliban policies of banning music entirely. Women’s education, employment and social rights were affected too. Moved by the critical state of music, Dr Ahmad Sarmast, managed to initiate the groundbreaking institute - ANIM - the National Institute of Music. This led to the first and only all-women orchestra in Afghanistan, Zohra, who are all students at ANIM and the first women in their families, community, and country to learn music in over 30 years - listen to Zohra here.
And one lady on the other spectrum of music is Paradise Sorouri, whose an Afgahni female rapper. A shocking ‘87% of women have endured physical or sexual violence’ and shes using her voice to express the gender inequality in post-Taliban Afgahnistan and spark change - read more here.