Music Freedom Day highlights 2017

21 March 2017


Music Freedom Day once again took place globally on 3 March with the participation and mobilising of artists, broadcasters, cultural managers, journalists, activists, creative hubs, organisations and music lovers worldwide. Around the world, Music Freedom Day events took place in 23 countries.

The focus for Music Freedom Day 2017 were women’s voices and the need to protect and celebrate the rights of women musicians globally.

Women artists from Afghanistan to USA sent their statement of support for Music Freedom Day and solidarity with women who are banned from singing or performing, threatened, attacked or even killed, simply for signing or performing. The video statements include words from Marjan (Zohra orchestra, the first all-women’s orchestra in the world) and UNESCO Goodwill Ambassador for artistic freedom and creativity, Deeyah Khan.

A Spotify playlist was created leading up to Music Freedom Day, featured global women’s voices that have been silenced.

Further, a special podcast was produced in collaboration with Saudi FM’s first Hip Hop radio host ‘Big Hass’, giving a rare insight into the conditions for creative women in Saudi Arabia.

On social media 86,300 people participated by highlighting Music Freedom Day through tweets, images, statements and videos, and several radio stations broadcasted special Music Freedom Day programs such as Swedish Radio, DR, Radio Helsinki, RadioTeleSuisse, Monte Carlo Doualiya (Radio France International), Radio RTS in Beograd as well as a special report by BBC World Services covering Music Freedom Day Kenya:


You can see a general overview of what was posted from media, organisations and journalists on


Below are a few highlights from Music Freedom Day 2017 events.

Geneva - poster
Geneva – poster

In Geneva, Freemuse co-hosted a side-session with the UN Special Rapporteur in the field of Cultural Rights, and spoke at the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) on the impact of fundamentalism and extremism on cultural rights, including women’s right to artistic freedom.

» Click to view the video from Music Freedom Day in Rabat.

In Morocco, Racines organised Music Freedom Day for the second time, and this time featuring an all-female band, a transgendered dancer and performer and an open debate where the audience and speakers debated on the concept of artistic freedom and its limits in society. Around 300 people attended the event.

Photos by Turning Tables Kenya

In Kenya, Music Freedom Day was highlighted with an all-women’s impressive line-up of DJ’s, rappers, singers and spoken-word artists as well as a panel debate discussion on women’s challenges and issues in the music and performing arts scene in Kenya.

Around 250 people attended the event which was hosted by Tuning Tables Kenya in Partnership with Sauti Za Mabinti a platform that seeks to empower and capacity build upcoming female artists in Kenya.


In Pakistan, Music Freedom Day drew large crowds at two different events. In Swat where all music was forbidden by the Taliban, Takhleeq Development Foundation provided the stage to commemorate those affected by the war and to especially highlight the role of women in music. Over a thousand people attended, and you can see the coverage from Mashriq TV on a Facebook video.

Photo and article by

Also in Pakistan, around 300 local artists and musicians joined the Music Freedom Day event organised by The Culture Journalists Forum and Peshawar Press Club Cultural Committee – alongside music supporters, professors and cultural activists – and besides performance, demanded of the provincial government to speed up work on cultural policy and take steps to ensure their safety, as well as a comprehensive cultural policy.


Photo from

In Norway, a number of events took place, such as the talk art under threat and the particular difficulties for women performers with Freemuse Director Ole Reitov, arranged by Music Freedom Day Norway at By:Larm Festival, followed by a concert in the evening.


In Myanmar, Music Freedom Day took place for the first time and leading up to 3 March, the organisers (Turning Tables Myanmar) met with the all-female lineup of artists to discuss topics such as religion, culture and family challenges for Burmese women artist. Click on the youtube video above to listen to the statements from the female artists.

South Africa
South Africa
South Africa
South Africa. Photos by Wiseman Sedibe c/o Black Smoke Agency and Music Freedom Day Festival

In South Africa, Music Freedom Day was hosted for the first time in Johannesburg, and is still ongoing until the end of March as Music Freedom Festival, which began with a media launch on 3 March, and a discussion on music censorship and women, and continues with concerts ad multiple mixed media and arts events. It is aimed at promoting the advancement of women in music by highlighting issues of censorship, sexual objectification, bad salary conditions and discrimination.

» Have a listen to the conversation at the launch – on

Music Freedom Day Bologna. Photo by Jacopo Pezzuto
Music Freedom Day Bologna. Photo by Jacopo Pezzuto

In Italy, Music Freedom Day 2017 saw two events – one of them in Bologna which featured a skype discussion on artistic freedom of expression, music and activism as well as poetry readings and a massive performance from musicians and singers. The event was live streamed and can be seen at

Senegal. Photos by Association Africulturban
Senegal. Photos by Association Africulturban

In Senegal, Music Freedom Day was merged with Women’s Urban Week and two days were dedicated to women in music featuring film screenings, panel discussions and performances. Music Freedom Day was organised by Africulturban in Dakar.

To see footage from all of the events, use the list of links to the Facebook-event pages.

We hope to see you again next year!

Home / Defending Artistic Freedom / Music Freedom Day highlights 2017