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Senegal: Digital trainings empower women in the music industry

The music of Senegal is known for its diversity and hybridity, ranging from ancient traditional melodies to popular contemporary tunes. As a vibrant hub of African music, the country has nurtured numerous brilliant musicians. Yet, the gender gap in education and access hinders women’s participation in the dynamic Senegalese musical scene.

Published on 10.09.2020

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DigitELLES, a project funded by “You Are Next” UNESCO | Sabrina Ho Initiative, combats stereotypes and empower women to fight against discrimination in the music industry. Launched by a local NGO,Africulturban,the project aims to enhance the professional competence of 20 young female musicians as well as to help them establish micro-enterprises.

A comprehensive digital training programme, designed to strengthen technical and artistic skills, includes classes in music theory, musical copyright, and music business. The training module puts particular emphasis on digital proficiency such as mix audio technology in creation order to address the technical barriers female musicians often face. “Women usually have fewer educational opportunities compared to men. We don’t have schools or universities providing professional musical trainings, which is a major reason limiting women’s access to the music industry,” said Dieynaba Sidibe, project coordinator, “We try to bring chances to women to develop their full potential in the music industry.”

Urban Women Week, a cultural festival organized by Africulturban, provided occasions for trainees to apply their recently acquired knowledge. During the 9th edition of the festival, held from the 2nd to 8th March 2020 in Dakar, over 20 events were successfully organized by DigitELLES beneficiaries.

Digital technology for the musical production

 The application of digital technology in music composition and production is a major component of the training. Three course modules – sound design and synthesis, digital audio theory, and digital signal processing – highlight the role of digital technology in the music industry. Lessons integrate hands-on trainings with hardware and software tools so the participating female musician will be able to set up a recording studio. At the completion of the training, each participant successfully carried out at least one music recording session.

The lack of operational and managerial knowledge is another obstacle for women’s participation in the music industry. To fill the knowledge gap, a female entrepreneurial club named DigitELLES_my passion, my profession was created to provide personalized training. A four-day training led by Positive Planet International, focusing on music business, was conducted to help women develop their entrepreneurial projects.

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“This programme gives me opportunities to realize my business project based on my passion as a DJ. I have created a company before, but it failed. I hope that the technical and entrepreneurial support from DigitELLES will make a difference and will help me succeed this time,” says Bintou Zerbo, a participant.

Dieynaba Sidibe believes that enhancing women’s vocational capacity can boost their employment opportunities. “Women have the freedom to choose a career they wish rather than deferring to the judgment of others. However, there is a lack of access, be it to education, information, or guidance. We are fighting to create more career possibilities in the music industry for women in Senegal.”