Part Six, we are combining various facets of empowerment in order to create a much needed infrastructure for empowerment of women in India. Creating a structure which would manifest as a ‘Sisterhood of Artists’ in India. We aim to launch this project by 2020. Currently we are consulting and receiving feedback, critique and suggestions from 40 plus activists, producers, mentors, DJs and artists from India, Germany, Spain, France, Norway, Switzerland, China and USA. Data and Advocacy, are vital tools for Action.
- IS IT POSSIBLE TO SET UP A ‘SISTER-HOOD OF ARTISTS’ IN INDIA?
The simple answer is YES … we can. However, lets consider the challenges, potential and size of the endeavour first. Conversation with academics, experts and mentors reveals important facets of the issue, of empowerment of women in India. Existing populism and ‘cherry-picking’ keeps the issue ‘poised’ at best. Advocacy requires action and commitment. Marginalised women numbering millions in India, need the assistance, solidarity and necessary tools to combat gender bias. In India, less than 2% of literate women [total is 439 million] are artists, curators, singers, dancers, painters, musicians, DJs and related professionals. Yet that very micro-minority [DISPROPORTIONATE] holds immense potential, voices with ‘power’ and a big ‘human resource’. Data and investigation show us – 0.2% of 662 million women [female population in India] = 1.3 million [approximate number of women who are engaged full-time or part-time in culture production, the arts and related professions] in India. As of now, there are NO women’s artist unions or dedicated [female] music institutions in India ➞ The need for education, awareness, empowerment programs and funding is vital to fight gender-inequality in any society. India has faired very badly (given the huge size of the industry and population) in creating credible change. We can gradually change any state of mass inequality and non-inclusion with public awareness, policy, funding and action. It may take a while, yet it empowers women across society. ” Change which aims horizontally instead of vertically “
HOW RESEARCH, ADVOCACY & ACTION MAKES EMPOWERMENT EFFECTIVE AND SUSTAINABLE.
Beyond research, collection of data, presentation of narratives, the global context and facts – Fembot5 is proposing a Sustainable Initiative. ‘Advocacy plus Action’ based on research, awareness and inclusivity. Our advocacy comprises of critical and objective narratives based on inputs from women and men working in diverse fields and conditions. Advocacy for rights, empowerment and inclusion is on the rise across the world. Currently across the world research-based solutions are being used to tackle inequality of various types. Women’s empowerment in music is also build upon similar values and ideologies. In order to understand ground reality, the last five editions featured research as well as questions / issues which women are voicing. However that spectrum is always expanding. The research and field enriches itself ever so much, every day as more input, content and talent is documented. We begin to seek membership and funding for this initiative by early 2019.
RESEARCH: Empowerment programs and ideas which are using data-driven and theory-based research have a bigger reach and higher chance of sustainability. Our research is an insight and evidence about the extent of gender bias in the music industry in India, and where diversity is needed and how to achieve it. Patterns of information reveal the nature and extent of gender bias as well as present necessary resources to create sustainable and democratic change ➞ The research material as mentioned earlier is always emerging and adding up, which makes the process dynamic, gradually heading towards the given objective. The research undertaken identifies the subject with the academic, professional, indie, emerging and the marginalised. A successful example of research based, data driven empowerment which is making a big impact is the Female Pressure Movement. Read in the Featured Section.
ADVOCACY: An important part of empowerment is the process of advocacy. Our advocacy questions the power dynamics, objectification of women, populism, cliches and the ‘diminished’ role of women. Advocacy necessitates finding the missing ‘female narrative’. The mission advocates – ‘opening doors for women in the music industry and offering females a chance to create more cultural musical narratives in India’. Advocacy (academic, public or individual) has manifested across hundreds of campaigns aimed at protecting rights, increasing inclusion and equal participation of women. Be it reproductive rights of women or the inclusion of more women into economic, legal, political and cultural institutions. Embodying the values of such movements and projects, we base some of our inspiration and objectives. Advocacy and objective propaganda manifests in various ways depending on the given issues and cultural conditions.
One such tool being the Inclusion Rider Initiative. The direct objective being to increase female visibility and participation. The Inclusion Rider [IR] is a ‘contract and appeal’ sent to institutions / festivals / curators / studios / producers / musicians and content creator’s : that stipulates the inclusion of women and marginalised groups into their content, programming and be responsible for increased participation — not just a small elite fraction of the talent pool. This system has been adopted by various institutions in EU and North America – as an important tool to raise awareness, collect data and engage in building diversity. Study shows the IR-system has indeed helped ensure a better democratic participation, over time.
ACTION: Awareness, activism, debate and public movement makes the action. Actions which have effected the rights of women in stupendous ways in the past 100 odd years, more than all of 5000+ years of civilisation. Actions about addressing issues as much moving towards equality. Actions driven to Make Lasting Change. Not tinkering at the edges and replicating populist culture. In India, female talent in music and arts is a vastly untapped resource, the big ‘muted’ voice which remains outside mainstream culture and concern. Our actions, combined or individual effects society, today and the future. Actions which mobilize and empower usher change. We are building ‘simple actions’ for ‘complex problems’. International models of empowerment existing outside India with a focus on the native context and society. Change must come from within, however small or big, yet in context of a global visible shift. Change which aims horizontally instead of vertically : individuals, artists, students, the industry, media and eventually a larger demographic. Giving women the right and access to equal representation in culture is not far from guaranteeing human rights for all. Collective action to build spaces, generate resources and build tools which stands to benefit women, those emerging, aspiring or at the margins.
Empowerment, to us means that our actions are not limited to making token-space or giving charity, but opening the doors to participation, re-setting the agenda, sharing resources, roles and ideas. It does not exclude the male, however it facilitates the female to take her equal space.
- Study by the Annenberg Inclusion Initiative, a leading think tank in the U.S. studying diversity and inclusion in entertainment through research and sponsored projects. Read Here
‘PRIVILEGED WOMEN’ WHO HAVE BENEFITTED FROM THE ACHIEVEMENTS OF THE LAST 100 YEARS, NEED TO ADDRESS THE ISSUE AND INTEGRATE THOSE NOT-SO-FORTUNATE, THE MANY THOUSANDS WHO ARE IN NEED OF ASSISTANCE, ENCOURAGEMENT AND SKILLS.
Gender-study of 20 major music festivals in Europe (2015-18)
➞ NOT ENOUGH FEMALE PRESENCE IN POP, ROCK, INDIE OR UNDERGROUND MUSIC IN INDIA ? Fembot5 research : Over 60 interviews [2016-18] with artists and professionals based in India, reveals the lack of women in key leadership positions. Across 600 top‐known artists and bands [pop, rock, indie, electronica, rap] from 2012 to 2017, just 16% of all are female, with only 8 women from underrepresented and economically weak groups. Women composers and producers in bollywood amount to 1 female for every 80 male. In electronic and DJ based music, a mere 9% of all producers of 150 random tunes (2016-18) were women, and only 2 transgender. The lack of women in roles responsible for creative direction in online media, editorial and P.R is troubling as well. This appears to reflect deeply‐held biases related to women in leadership position. More on this in our next edition.
“WOMEN’S PARTICIPATION IN BUILDING SOCIETY, FRAMING LAWS, SHAPING ECONOMICS AND GOVERNANCE HAS SEEN MANY POSITIVE EFFECTS IN INDIA JUST LIKE THE REST OF THE WORLD. WHAT LESSONS DO WE DRAW FROM THAT? INVEST IN WOMEN’S CAPABILITIES. ENSURE THEIR RIGHTS AS MUCH AS CREATE MORE SPACE FOR WOMEN. EMPOWER POLITICALLY, CULTURALLY AND TECHNICALLY. THEY WILL DESIGN THEIR OWN DESTINY…”
At the turn of the millennium, Female:Pressure was founded by Electric Indigo. 19 years on, the website and it’s social media network is an important medium for thousands of female, transgender and non-binary artists in the fields of electronic music and digital arts. The effect of the initiative has been felt ever more across many european festivals, online features, academic areas and networking events. The database of Female:Pressure includes artists, musicians, composers and DJs to visual artists, cultural workers, techies, activist and researchers. Austrian open source expert Andrea Mayr made the programming and continuous advancement of the database since 2005. She also curated sound-compilations which are open-source. A revised system was revamped in February 2014. Female:Pressure today is perhaps the world’s largest reservoir of information and contacts in the field of emerging female talent, news and issues : ” A worldwide resource of talent that can be searched after criteria like location, profession, style or name. “Why are there so few women active in the electronic music scene?” – each one of us has heard this question a thousand times… Here is the answer: It’s not our number, it’s about how and if we are recognised” . The website also contains spreadsheets, data and info-graphics about gender and participation in festivals based in the EU region.
female:pressure intends to strengthen networking, communication and representation – a standard instrument to obtain information about artists, contact them, and find out about other, maybe less known women in electronic music all around the globe. Every artist listed in this database is able to keep her personal entry up-to-date. The network comprises over 2250 members from 75 countries as at August 2018. If you want to be part of female:pressure don’t hesitate to send an e-mail to: email@example.com
January 2019. We reveal the build plan and fund raising strategy spanning the next two years. The plan levered upon research, advocacy and action. We interview international mentors looking at India. A new section featuring ‘the faint female voices’ in India. The next edition presents various funding strategies, inclusion initiatives and support services created by Fembot5. We invite you to join us in this ambitious mission to create a nationally impacting project. Of empowerment and change. Your feedback, critique and contribution is what makes this mission even stronger. For this we need everyone coming together, institutions, agencies, big and small, public, independent artists, producers and professionals. Clearly, the time is now. 2019 We Are Ready!