An unusual panel discussion was held at the United Nations, about women in the music industry, which unfortunately is still a male-dominated business world-wide. Statistics speak for themselves. According to a recent article from The Guardian, out of 1400 concerts that had been scheduled for 2018-19 world-wide, only 76 included works by women. Furthermore, only one of the twenty most popular American orchestras is conducted by a woman. Women are also fighting to have access to senior positions in the record labels and technological music platforms, sectors traditionally reserved to men.
This is a hot topic, in particular in these times when women’s networks are being mobilized globally to advocate for gender equality. The recent NYC Women’s March is an example of their efforts and achievements. At the prestigious UN Headquarters, the discussion focused on the challenges posed by the music industry and necessary changes regarding gender equality, pluralism and diversity, featuring three impressive women. Neeta Ragoowansi is former president of Women in Music, co-founder of NPREX (National Performing Rights Exchange), an entertainment attorney and a music business professional focusing on music licensing, rights administration, and related technology development. Veronica Sabbag is a EU diplomat, founder and CEO of “United Voices 4 Peace”, a citizen-lead cultural initiative promoting various forms of inter-cultural exchanges to build a culture of peace through music and the arts. And Jane Meryll is a pianist, composer, singer, musical director, editor and coach, and a Grammy nominee as well.
“Because of my lifelong passion for music and my proximity to the music community”, declared Veronica Sabbag in her talk, “I recognize, admire and believe in the power of the arts to bring a new and useful narrative to help advance and transform our traditional way of addressing today’s societal issues, to complement and improve the impact of other initiatives”. She further expressed the belief that “Artists are naturally inclined to be socially responsible and to help in spreading these values in a positive and inclusive way, something with which I really identify”. This powerful conviction, indeed, felt as a mission, led her into undertaking a cultural diplomacy initiative, founding “United Voices 4 Peace”. The organization is driven by a quote from Victor Hugo, “Music expresses that which cannot be put into words and that which cannot remain silent”.