Alankrita Shrivastava’s film Lipstick Under My Burkha was initially denied release in India for being “lady oriented”, Icelandic artist Borghildur Indriðadóttir had her Facebook friends and photos deleted after she shared a promo of her photo exhibition Demoncrazy featuring topless women, and Afghan playwright and actor Monirah Hashemi received death threats for performing in Afghanistan and shut herself inside her house for three months before relocating to Sweden to continue her career in the arts.


These women artists are just a few of the voices in Freemuse’s new report Creativity Wronged: How women’s right to artistic freedom is denied and marginalised. The first-of-its-kind, 100-page report highlighting the inequality, exclusion and harassment of women artists and audiences around the world, as documented through five years of research. It is based on dozens of qualitative interviews and contains analysis of over 90 cases of violations against women artists and audiences over the last five years.



Opening remarks from Danish Minister for Culture Mette Bock.


The gender-based silencing of women artists and the specific challenges they face have often been overlooked and need action. The report concludes in over 20 practical recommendations for governments, human rights and non-governmental organisations, and the United Nations, which should be the ground for policy dialogues.


“After scrutinising five years of data, the results are clear: women’s artistic freedom is being silenced wholesale in every corner of the globe. They are told what they can and can’t sing, play, paint, act, film, attend or wear,” said Freemuse Executive Director Dr Srirak Plipat.


“There is evidence of gender-based discrimination and violations against women artists and women who take part in cultural life. These restrictions are inconsistent with international human rights standards. It is imperative that governments prioritise and act on this information including coming up with concreate plans to better protect women artists and their expression.”


Freemuse and KVINFO launched the report on 29 November 2018 at Danish Parliament, Christiansborg Palace in Copenhagen, together with Yildiz Akdogan, MP and vice chair of the Gender Equality Committee who opened the event.


“To put focus on women and women’s freedom of artistic expression is an important agenda and a value which we must support and promote. The Freemuse report and this event are important steps to get an insight into the issues and what can be done about them,” said Yildiz Akdogan MP, prior to the launch.


Opening remarks were made by Danish Minister for Culture Mette Bock; Eiler Nils Fleischer from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Cultural Department, Norway; and Director of KVINFO Henriette Laursen before Freemuse Executive Director presented the report.


The launch ended with a debate moderated by journalist Simon Kratholm Ankjærgaard, with Afghan artist Monirah Hashemi; Anders Wahren, Program Director at Roskilde Festival; and Cecilie Gregersen Nielsen, Program Manager Civic Space at Amnesty International Denmark.


Read the Creativity Wronged: How women’s right to artistic freedom is denied and marginalised report here.