How to Advance Gender Equality in Africa’s Music Industry

African artists are making waves in the global music industry which is currently estimated at $25.9 billion. A recent study by Music in Africa showed that Tanzania and Kenya are the biggest music exporters in the East African region, with musicians like Zuchu and Nikita Kering winning the biggest awards.

In North Africa, young hip-hop artists like ElGrandeToto and Wegz are taking the genre to the next level in the Arab region. South Africa is currently enjoying the growing popularity of its “Amapiano” musical style in other African countries, while Central Africa has seen veterans like Koffi Olomidé and Fali Ipupa cement their presence in the global music industry. .

In West Africa, Nigerian and Ghanaian artists dominated the airwaves and Digital Service Providers (DSPs) in 2021. Some of West Africa’s notable music hits come from the Beninese singer, the back-to-back wins at the Grammy Awards for Angélique Kidjo and the song by Wizkid and Tems, “Essence”. which earned the duo several international awards.

Recently, Tems also put Nigeria and the African continent on a global map as she became the first Nigerian artist in history to debut at number one on the Billboard Hot 100 charts with her feature film about the singer. American “Wait For U” by Future.

Source: Bulletin Boards

While the African music industry is making waves globally, women who are part of this ecosystem are still massively underrepresented. A two-week study of the Nigerian music chart found that the only songs on air with women credited as producers were those by self-producers like Tems and Simi. Of the 50 songs on “African Heat,” Spotify’s biggest African playlist, none are attributed to female music producers.

Other musicians from African countries have also denounced the under-representation of women in the music industry. South African hip-hop artist Kay Faith, in a conversation with the media, said there are not many women in the engineering and music production scene in South Africa .

Carola Kinasha, a musician based in Tanzania, pointed to a similar problem in the East African music industry, saying, “We have made a name for ourselves in the music industry all over the world. Yet gender inequalities, sexism and pay gaps persist.

With the underrepresentation of women in the music industry, one might wonder if men are simply more creative than women. However, a recent meta-analytic review of the gender difference in creative performance by the Journal of Applied Psychology showed no empirical difference between men’s and women’s creativity. The researchers found that the creativity score is correlated with a parietofrontal component for female and male groups in the brain.

Given that women’s ability to be creative isn’t the issue, it’s glaring that one of the major issues facing the music industry is the lack of intentional and systemic efforts to advance the gender inclusion. The cultural notion that women primarily take care of the home persists, leading to the scrutiny and under-representation of many women in different industries.

The representation, diversity and inclusion of women are essential in all areas of society, especially for economic and sustainable growth. The United Nations 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development emphasizes that achieving full human potential and sustainable development is impossible if half of humanity continues to be denied opportunities.

Tobi Amusan

The need for gender inclusion for national progress is already evident in the recent achievements of Nigerian women in sport and music. In one week, Tems and Tobi Amusan broke new records that put their country, Nigeria and the African continent on a world map. As previously reported, Tems became the first Nigerian artist to debut at No. 1 on the Billboard Hot 100, while Tobi Amusan became Nigeria’s first-ever World Championship gold medalist and world record holder. ‘Athletics.

Thus, society must make intentional and systemic efforts to advance gender equality and inclusion in all sectors of human endeavour, especially in the African music industry, for the nation to reach its full potential. .

The first step to straightening things out will be for people to have a better mindset towards the need for women’s voices and inclusion in all areas of human existence. Men should not be considered the default in the music industry. Entertainment writers also need to tell the stories of women in music as much as they tell those of men. More documentaries should be produced about women musicians, with a spotlight on their latest music and continued promotion of their works.

The language written about female musicians should not be one that depicts them as an outlier, but one that reflects them as integral to the industry. For example, when writing about a particular achievement by a music star, their gender doesn’t need to be the focus. They shouldn’t be described as one of the top “female” music stars, but rather as one of the “top music stars”.

Executive chefs from top African record labels like Chocolate City, The VTH Season, Super Black Tapes, Kalawa Jazmee, Mavin and others also have a role to play. They must make intentional efforts for gender representation in audio media fields by employing significant numbers of female talent as engineers, screenwriters, set designers, and cameramen, among others.

Beyond the efforts of executive heads, organizations must put in place policies and measures for equal gender representation within their organization. This must be systematized in all teams or departments.

In the education sector, the government should include more creative and artistic activities (such as music, modeling, theater and performance) in secondary and tertiary institutions. It is also necessary that students (whether male or female) be encouraged to participate in these activities, regardless of their background or gender.

Music industry players should invest more in female musicians. Mentorship opportunities, training programs and recognition of excellence through globally recognized awards should be accessible to women and girls enthusiastic about African music.

On an individual level, fans must take ownership and help rewrite the skewed narrative of the African music industry. This can be done by listening to more songs from female music stars and amplifying their works online when they are considered bright or enjoyable. This does not recommend preferential treatment for women and girls. It is more of an intentional action to recognize that the participation of women and girls has been overlooked and underrepresented over the years, and to redeem that, they must be prioritized.

With the will of music industry players, individual music enthusiasts and an enabling environment, advancing gender representation in the music industry will no longer be a dream but a beautiful reality in Africa.

More importantly, it only gets better for everyone when women and girls feel included. It is an opportunity to access more enjoyable musical sounds, to earn higher incomes to boost the economy and to have a larger number of musicians who can break world records and continuously put Africa on a world map.

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