Women in Music Project
The broader music industry in Vanuatu suffers from an extreme gender bias. There are very few women in any of the bands. There are no female music producers, and very few volunteers involved in the organisation and production of the Fest’Napuan event. The Fest’Napuan Association (the charitable association which is responsible for the event) has several female members who are the highest profile women in the music industry. Apart from a few women who manage their own music careers, and women who sit on management committees for bands, there are no female music managers and certainly no full-time professional female music managers. It is fair to say that the music industry in Vanuatu is dominated by men.
In 2010, Further Arts and Fest’Napuan initiated the Women in Music Project. For the first time ever, the Fest’Napuan had an official “theme”. In acknowledging the gender imbalance in the industry, the organisers decided to theme the event as Women in Music to encourage greater participation by young women and to provide a safe and attractive atmosphere to facilitate this. A group of women were supported to form a Sub-Committee. This Sub-Committee was called the Women In Music (WIM) Committee. The Committee was responsible for providing the guidance and direction for Fest’Napuan volunteers to ensure the effective implementation of the project. Broadly the project aimed to encourage greater participation by young women in the music industry and to provide a safe and attractive atmosphere to facilitate this. More specifically, WIM was able to:
• Provide the framework for an Event’s Management Intern student from Southern Cross University in Australia to come and coordinate the project activities below;
• Engage a local Counterpart to work with the Intern student;
• Assist Fest’Napuan to organize and set up a series for workshops and master classes, leading up to Fest Nap and during Fest Nap week. Themes focused on issues affecting women in society, in general, and music. Music workshops were created for young ni-Vanuatu women to engage and interact with the Australian Women as role models and mentors.
• Launch Pacific Women’s Music Network Alliance which will eventually connect to Fiji, PNG, Solomon Islands, New Caledonia and other Pacific Islands. This will kick start a database with the list of female singers on, including confirmed members of the steering committee;
• Hosted a two-day Social Forum (“Storian”) with a focus on gender issues;
• Sought funding from various sources for the activities listed above.
The WIM Committee was made up entirely of women. Further, the WIM Committee formed the founding board for the establishment of the Pacific Women’s Musik Alliance which is the agent for fundraising through international donors. As part of this project, WIM was engaged in:
• Bringing in international women artists to perform from around the Pacific
• Asking all local performing bands to feature at least one song sung by a woman, and other requirements for involvement of women (this is still being worked out)
• Bringing in two women’s kastom groups from Maewo and Aneityum to perform
• Forming an all-woman supergroup of prominent local women artists to perform