It’s International Women’s Day and this year’s campaign theme is #beboldforchange. In honour of the day, we’ve compiled a list of eleven ladies in the music industry doing their bit to make a positive impact for women around the world.
Not only has Robyn dominated the charts with her Scandi-pop for nearly a decade, she’s also pretty invested in a new generation of women doing the same. Back in 2015 she founded a festival promoting the inclusion of women in music and technology. TEKLA is a festival made for young women interested in digital arts and media. Held in Stockholm, Sweden, TEKLA invites girls between the ages of 11-18 to discover more about experimenting with different types of technology through interactive workshops and talks.
Anohni’s debut solo album ‘Hopelessness‘ was radical and politically charged. With an underlying theme of resentment against irreversible climate change, and some notable anger directed at President Obama, the debut gained wide critical acclaim. This landed her nominations for both The 2016 Mercury Prize and a Brit Award for British Female Solo Artist. She was the first transgender artist to be nominated for either award.
Lizzo wants to promote a body positivity revolution with her music: “I want to put women who look like me in the mainstream, I want that visibility and fairness,” she said to Vogue. “Visibility is important because it lets people know those opportunities are available. I want little girls to see me and my dancers and be like ‘Hey, I can do that too.’ ” It only takes a spin of her latest EP, Coconut Oil, for your confidence to start growing.
Kesha’s ongoing lawsuit against Sony’s Dr. Luke, has become one of the most widely reported music law cases in recent years. Claiming that the producer had sexually assaulted her amongst other allegations, #FreeKesha trended on the internet and has opened up a wider issue on sexual assault for people everywhere.
“This is not just for me. This is for every woman, every human who has ever been abused. Sexually. Emotionally. Mentally. I had to tell the truth,” she continued. “So the outcome will be what it will be. There’s nothing left I can do.” said Kesha on Instagram last year.
5. Janelle Monae
Janelle Monae’s black feminist politics underpins her empowering, tux-toting music and her shift to the silver screen is no different. Her debut movies Hidden Figures and Moonlight are a some of the most vital stories in fighting social injustices of recent years: “I want to redefine what it means to be young, black, wild and free in America,” she told GQ. With the success of the two films, it’s safe to say she’s making a mark.
Sign up for the newsletter
Arguably bold from birth, Icelandic titan Björk took to her Facebook page last year to talk about the sexism her and other musicians face when they cover complex issues. Björk went on to deliver a more general comment on the way female artists who tackle subjects that are not connected to their romantic relationships with men are treated by the media. She added that this happened with her two last albums. “On the pedagogic Biophilia I sang about galaxies and atoms, but it wasn’t until Vulnicura where I shared a heartbreak I got full acceptance from the media.”
7. Pussy Riot
Founded in Russia in 2011, as a feminist punk collective that liked to stick two fingers up to Putin by protesting at church, modern day Pussy Riot consists of only Maria Alyokhina and Nadya Tolokonnikova.
Currently Alyokhina and Tolokonnikova spend much of their time outside of Russia, speaking on panels and meeting with Western politicians. They’re still making politically charged songs, such as ‘Make America Great Again’ which is much more poppy than their origins, but just as punk in it’s own way.
8. Laura Jane Grace
Laura Jane Grace of Against Me!’s decision to come out as a transgender woman was one of the most public in the punk scene. Although an incredibly difficult time for Grace, her story has given hope to other transgender people struggling for acceptance. The activist is not just a voice for the trans-community voice for those unhappy with the Trump administration. What’s more bold than being so vocal and strong in the face of your enemie
Not only was her album, ‘A Seat at the Table‘, one of the best of last year, as Solange described the LP as “a project on identity, empowerment, independence, grief and healing.”
On Solange’s website, Saint Heron, journalist Judnick Mayard wrote that “The themes that permeate throughout the album – grief, anger, sorrow, power – can relate to anyone, but, here, she uses them to speak directly to Black womanhood and the attacks we face daily.” It’s another bold move against the unrest in America.
10. Tegan and Sara
Late last year Canadian pop twins Tegan and Sara really solidified the fact that everything they do is awesome by announcing the launch of the Tegan and Sara Foundation which they call a: “fight for economic justice, health and representation for LGBTQ girls and women.”
The second Knowles sister to make the list, Beyoncé’s sixth album ‘Lemonade‘ was a “a conceptual project based on every woman’s journey of self-knowledge and healing.”
Tracks like ‘Formatio’n and Freedom have been an important conversation piece in the Black Lives Matter movement. To further the political statement of institutional racism, Formation was released one day after what would have been Trayvon Martin’s 21st birthday and one day before what would have been Sandra Bland’s 29th birthday.
Queen Bey’s incredible reach has bought feminism and racial issues to the forefront of pop-music in a way that no other has.