Freemuse addresses women’s issues at UNESCO


Women artists are at particular risk in many countries and are discriminated from performing in countries such as Saudi Arabia and Iran. This was highlighted during an international seminar at UNESCO headquarters in Paris on Women’s International Day, 8 March 2017.

Freemuse Executive Director, Ole Reitov shared a panel with Deeyah Khan, filmmaker, producer and UNESCO Goodwill Ambassador for Freedom of Artistic Expression and Creativity,  and Suzanne Combo,  singer and co-founder of La Guilde des artistes musiciens (GAM) and the International Artists Organization (IAO), in a discussion entitled ‘The Courage to Create: Gender Equality and the Arts’.

“Discrimination of girls starts in the family, continues in kindergarten and school and is reinforced by media stereotypes,” said Reitov in his introduction to a packed hall.

Ms Deeyah Khan, who has initiated several networks supporting women artists, talked about her own experiences of being a young artist threatened by males, and Suzanna Combo told the audience how, as an artist, she was requested to change her voice to a higher pitch in order to live up to French stereotypes in music.

The panel was organised by UNESCO and the HeForShe Arts Week Paris and the seminar was opened by French Minister for Families, Children and Women Rights, Laurence Rossignol, who said: “We are seeing serious threats to women’s rights worldwide and arts are an important vehicle to resist these threats.”


Photo: © UNESCO/N. Houguenade, Ole Reitov, Executive Director of Freemuse; Suzanne Combo, composer, founder of Guild of musical artists; Deeyah Khan, UNESCO Goodwill Ambassador for Artistic Freedom and Creativity; Audrey Pulvar, journalist and writer (moderator) (panel II) – UNESCO headquarters, 8th March 2017.


Read more

» UNESCO – 10 March 2017
The courage to create: Artists take action for a gender equal world

» UNESCO – 9 March 2017
UNESCO celebrating women in the arts on International Women’s Day


More from Freemuse

» 3 March 2017: Podcast: Spotlight on Saudi female artists

» 22 February 2017: Iran: Band banned from festival due to women singing solo

» 27 January 2017: Afghanistan: Zohra receives Freemuse Award:’This can inspire young women’

» 26 May 2016: Afghanistan: Kandahar authorities ban broadcast of songs by women

» 28 October 2014: Pakistan: Women musicians speak out about ‘the gender challenge’

» 17 March 2014: Freemuse to United Nations: Iran discriminates women artists