Female-fronted indie bands come together to fight gender inequality through music on International Women’s Day

Every year on the 8 March, people around the world celebrate International Women’s Day, a celebration to mark the achievements of women throughout history and calls for more action to bring gender equality.

In Birmingham, a group of female-fronted indie bands marked the occasion by performing to raise funds for a gender equality charity and to inspire other women to fight the gender gap in rock music.

The gig, held at the city’s Sunflower Lounge, was organised by promoter Indie Midlands with the support of Loud Women, who focus on promoting the best up-and-coming female talent in the rock genre.

Proceeds went to the Birmingham and Solihull Women’s Aid, one of the many charities supporting women and children affected by domestic violence and abuse.

The BSWA runs a confidential hotline and webchat facility as well as having a professionally trained team of female workers to support families in need of help.

Anna Fawcett, the BSWA’s fund-raising manager said it was important to spread the word about equality.

“Sadly, one in four women will experience some form of abuse in their lifetime, which I’m sure is something that women 100 years ago would’ve been disappointed to hear when they were fighting for equality

“International women’s day is really important in trying to raise awareness that feminism hasn’t succeeded yet, and that we still need to promote women’s rights.”

According to the national charity Women’s Aid, recent data shows that police in England and Wales receive over 100 calls relating to domestic abuse every hour.

However, just 18% of women who had experienced abuse in the last 12 months reported it to the police.

Mrs Fawcett said there was still a “disparaging” gender gap in music, something that has been a topic of discussion following the lack of lack of female performers on the line-ups of the top UK festivals.

“There’s a real breadth of female artists out there who just simply don’t get the same opportunities that men do, and we know that,” she said

Last year’s Reading and Leeds festival only featured one female performer, Billie Eilish, among the festival’s top billed acts.

Rock festival TRNSMT had just one act featuring women and there were no female headliners at indie festivals Green Man or End of the Road.

Bristol-based band Fawner, who joined the Women’s Day gig said they had first-hand experience of seeing the gender gap.

Lead singer Courteney Yeoell said “We do a lot of gigs and at our level we don’t see a lot of female fronted bands, or bands with females in them, from what we’re seeing there is a lot of underrepresentation especially in rock.

“We’re all here to encourage each other and to try and change what’s going on, and I think l more of that encouragement is needed.”

Coventry band Shanghai Hostage also talked about the difficulties of trying to break into the male-dominated indie scene.

“I think progress is being made slowly, but it’s about giving women the confidence, because women breaking into the indie scene are self-conscious as well,” said front woman Sophie Hadlum.

“It just feels like a bit of a man’s world, performing for the first time is going to be scary enough let alone trying to promote yourself, you think you’re going to be judged or criticised to bits.”

Both bands, however, are positive that progress is being made and noted that more and more festivals have tried to encourage inclusive line-ups, with 45 festivals pledging their commitment to reach a 50/50 gender split.

There has also been a rise in all-female festivals around the world, trying to give the female artists more opportunities and showcase their talent to inspire others.

Loud Women who supported the gig, are a non-profit initiative UK promotor who support women in the industry, particularly in the rock and punk scene trying to give them more opportunities and get their voices heard.

The company also runs an online magazine, an annual music festival, and live music nights in London and beyond, featuring all-female or female-fronted rock and punk.

Anna Fawcett said she hope other promoters would follow their lead.

“By having all-female artists on a lineup, that’s no detriment to men, because we know men still occupy most of the spaces.

“If you see yourself replicated on a stage that is inspirational in itself. It’s a sense that men and women could be equal in music, so why shouldn’t they be equal in all aspects of life?