Gender Policies

To address the question of gender balance and equality of chances within the wider music community, but also in ECSA’s membership community, boards and CMOs, the ECSA board has set-up in 2016, the Working Group on Gender and Equality. The group continuously examines the situation in the music environment in Europe and we work on solutions on how ECSA can improve within its own network.


Members of the Working Group on Gender and Equality

Elizabeth Anderson is a Belgo-American composer specializing in electroacoustic composition.  Her artistic production comprises acousmatic, mixed, and radiophonic works as well as works for multimedia and sound installations, and has been performed in international venues for over twenty years. Underlying her creative and pedagogical approach is her research on the perception of electroacoustic music from a poietic and esthesic perspective. Elizabeth is interested in promoting women composers, in particular those who specialize in electroacoustic music.

Alfons Karabuda is a Swedish composer born in Stockholm in 1967. Composing mainly flm and theatre music, he has worked with BBC, Zentropa, DR, SVT, The Swedish Film Institute, Dansens Hus and Stockholm City Theatre. Mr. Karabuda currently holds the position as chairman of SKAP (Swedish Society of Songwriters, Composers and Authors), president of ECSA (European Composer and Songwriter Alliance) as well as a member of the board of STIM (Swedish Performing Rights Society). In addition to this, he is president of the Polar Music Prize Award Jury and chairman of the Polar Music Prize Award Prize Committee. Mr. Karabuda currently is executive vice-president of the International Music Council. At SKAp he champions initiatives that strategically promote diversity and equality.

Sine Tofte Hannibal is the general manager of the Danish Composer’s Society. Gender equality, diversity and the meeting between audiences and live music are topics that she continuously focus on and work with in the Danish Composers’ Society and within the field of new music. She has a background as project manager for festivals and ensembles for experimental music, projects that engage children and young people in music, and as facilitator of Nordic and European networks on audience development. Most recently, she took the initiative in the Danish Composer’s Society of making a comprehensive repertoire statistics on live classical music in Denmark – a statistic that shows the music that we as audiences are presented with in terms of music by women and men, newly written music and older music, as well as Danish and foreign music. The statistic showed that less than 4% of the live classical repertoire in Denmark is written by women.

Natalia Vergara is the Founder, Producer and Director of “Señoritas On Fire”, the only collective of female composers in the world which aims to promote female songwriters and singers, having managed tours in London, New York, México, Berlin, Madrid. Vergara is as well the President of AMCE (Association of Spanish Women Music Creators), member of the Gender Group in ECSA (European Composers & Songwriters Alliance), she is also a member of the board of Directors of the Spanish Society of Composers AMA (Associated Music Authors). Natalia’s works have been published by Warner Chappell Spain and Televisa Mexico. Natalia teaches Music Business in the European School of Economics ESE, she got her postgraduate Diploma in Music Management at ESE LONDON and graduated from Complutense University, Spain on Gender Gap in the Cultural and Creative Industry. She holds a degree in Media Studies from URJC Spain, and she is also a lawyer with a specialization in Entertainment Law (CEU SPAIN).

Issie Barratt is an internationally active, multi award-winning jazz composer, arranger, conductor, baritone player, record producer and educator. Ranked by BBC Radio 4’s 2018 powerlist as one of the 40 most influential women in the music industry, Issie is the founding Director of Fuzzy Moon Records and musical director to three of her own ensembles: a 21-piece jazz orchestra, “Meinrad Iten Quartet “and her ground-breaking ensemble “INTERCHANGE” (championing and commissioning the music of women composers, performed by a diverse collective of female performers that draws from a collective of 200). Issie’s diverse and genre-fluid catalogue includes works for orchestra, choir, big band, chamber ensembles and solo piano. A passionate educator, Issie was the founding head of Jazz at London’s TrinityLaban (1999-2012) and is now the founding Artistic Director of the National Youth Jazz Collective, whose programme upholds a 50:50 gender policy of teaching artists and repertoire. Issie is the Ivors Academy’s first Jazz Board Director and founding chair of the Ivors Academy’s newly constituted jazz committee.

External observer:

Aafke Romeijn (1986) is a composer, songwriter, producer and performing artist from Utrecht (NL). As a pop musician with a stark interest for anything political, she founded BAM! (Dutch Songwriters Alliance), together with seven (male) colleagues. Romeijn: “My mom is a female conductor, and I was raised in a feminist household. I’d like to see more women in decision making positions and on stage, and I hope I’m able to encourage women to get out there.”


Gender Working Group members (from left to right): Aafke Romeijn, Natalia Vergara, Elizabeth Anderson, Alfons Karabuda and Sine Tofte Hannibal. Image credit: Natalia Vergara


Outcomes of the Working Group on Gender and Equality




The ECSA Working Group on Gender and Equality is proud to announce the publication of the ECSA Gender Equality Charter, a set of commitments aimed at improving the conditions and advancement of women composers and songwriters in the music industry.

The charter is the result of collaboration, discussion and debate among the Working Group  and the community of ECSA’s members and it is meant to inspire ECSA Member Organisations and other stakeholders to take action and act to change the gender imbalance we experience in the music industry today.

We pledge to:

  1. Improve equality and diversity at decision-making levels.
  2. Participate in or organize activities that promote equality and diversity in the music industry. And, in an opposite situation, for example men might choose to refrain from participating in an all-male panel.
  3. Take the necessary steps to compensate for the gender bias in the awarding of prizes and grants, always making sure that a gender balance should be met in the nomination process.
  4. Recruit employees, partners and suppliers from a wide talent pool.
  5. Adopt practices to welcome more female songwriters and composers as members of organisations where we have influence (CMO’s etc.).
  6. Work towards a balance in the programming of concerts, venues, festivals and panels.
  7. Share methods of increasing equality and diversity with others, so we can learn from each other.
  8. Increase the visibility of female role models at both an academic and a professional artistic level, and promote a wider variety of role models in the music industry.

You can find the PDF version of the Charter here.


Best practices 

In 2017, the Working Group has initiated a research on best practice examples of policies and initiatives that promote gender balance in the creative sectors. This section presents some examples of best practices implemented in projects and activities across Europe and beyond, that contribute to a higher representation and promotion of female composers and songwriters.


Festivals and Events

(SWE) Statement Festival. Only Women artists on stage and women in the audience, as a protest against harassment on festivals.

(GER) W-Festival. All soloist and band front figures are women.

(ENG) WOW (Women of the World). Conferences, debates, shows, performances focused upon gender equality.

(LUX) OMNI Festival. Embracing artists from different backgrounds.

(MEX) Ruidosa Festival. Showcasing music created by latinx women, and curating discussion about gender issues in latinx communities.

(DK) Talk Town. Talk Town consist of debate rooms and stages focusing on all forms of debate and conversations around gender issues.

(UK) Music Week: Women in Music Awards. Celebrating women in the music industry since 2014.

(NO) Borealis Festival. Festival for experimental music, with a successful programming of 50/50 male and female composer and performers.


(UK) Keychange: A pioneering European program developed in partnership with seven international festivals and co-funded by the Creative Europe program of the European Union. Partners pledge to have 50/50 gender balance in their music program by 2022. Keychange festival partners are: BIME (SPA), Iceland Airwaves (ICE), Mutek (CAN), Musikcentrum (SWE), Way out West (SWE), Reperbahn Festival (GER), The Great Escape (UK), Tallinn Music Week (EST).

(UK) Women Make Music. Program to support the development of outstanding female composers and songwriters in the U.K.

(SPA) Musica de Mujeres en las Aulas (trans. Music by women in the classroom). Initiative in which every classical music schol in Spain will have to organize a concert containing works by women.

Associations and Movements 

(NO) Balansekunst (trans. The Art of Balance). A network of art institutions woring with gender and diversity in arts. The network consist of more than 40 art institutions.

(UK) Stop2018. Women in the british music industry unites to end sexual misconduct.

(AUS) MeNoMore. More than 360 australian women have signe the #MeNoMore letter, recounting harassment, assault and rape.

(SWE) #Närmuskentystnar (trans. When music is silent). More than 2.000 swedish women working in the music businness, has signed an open letter alleging widespread sexual abuse, and calling for major changes.

(Int) Women in Music. International organization for women working in the music business.

(Int) Girls I Rate. International movement encouraging women to work together for a better future.

(Int) #SheSaidSo. Global network of women working in the music industry.

(UK) Let’s Be the Change. Network of women in the music industry, who are willing to talk openly about gender issues.

(Int) Women Produce Music. Encouraging women to work with technical aspects of music.

(UK) The Other Woman. Music network showcasing the best in new, upcoming and current female talent.

(ITA) FACDIM. Organization for female composers. Prints books with history of women, hosts residencies for female composers only and curates performances of female composers.

(NO) AKKS Norway. Organization involved in creating a more diverse and equal music industry in Norway.

(SPA) AMCE. Association of female music creators in Spain. The aim is to raise awareness upon equality, diversity etc.

(SPA) Mujeres Y Musica (trans. Women and Music). MyM’s mission is to achieve a more gender balanced music industry.

(INT) IAWM – Internation Alliance for Women in Music. Membership organization dedicated to foster and encourage activities of women in music.

Studies/Journals/Articles (8)

(AUS) Skipping a Beat: Assessing the State of the Gender Equality in the Australian Music Industry. 2017.

(AUS) Girls to the Front – By the Numbers: The Gender Gap in the Australian Music Industry. 2017.

(DK) Fold Musikken Ud (Trans. Unfold Music). A charter about diversity in music. 2017.

(NO) FACTS: Female Pressure. Survey conducted by the Female Pressure Network, addressing problems of gender inequality in music business.

(INT) Online Encyclopedia of Living Women Composers, Songwriters and Creators of Music. Consisting of more than 4.000 biographies of female European creators of musical content.

(UK) PRS 2017 Report concludes that nearly 80% of women working in the music industry have experienced sexism.

(UK) The Challenge of Organising a Gender-Balanced Conference in the Music Industry.

(NL) Why is it that so Few Female Artists Grave Our Airwaves? Investigation by dutch radio-station 3FM.


(DK) Jazzcamp for Piger (trans. Jazzcamp for Girls). Annual jazzcamp for girls only.

(DK) Pop Pilots. Annual music camp encouraing girls to create and play music.

(NO) Loud Bandcamp. Camp for all non-males between teenagers.

(NO) ElektroLoud. Elektroloud is an offer for all non-males between the age of 16 and 26. Focus is on how to record and produce music.


(SPA) Women in Music – Towards Equality in Music Biz. Documentary. (2017).


(UK) Women in music and entertainment – LinkedIn network.

(Int) WIMN – Womens Internernational Music Network


Please note that this list is non-exhaustive. If you are aware of other best practice examples that you would like to share, please contact the ECSA team at 


ECSA statement against sexual harassment

ECSA’s members acknowledged and approved the following statement against sexual harassment at the General Assembly on 21st February 2018: The main objective of the European composer and songwriter alliance – ECSA – is to defend and promote the rights of authors of music at the national, European and international levels by any legal means. ECSA advocates for equitable commercial conditions for composers and songwriters and strives to improve social and economic development of music creation in Europe.

ECSA enshrines equal treatment and freedom from sexual harassment as fundamental human rights. Every composer and songwriter has the right to a safe working environment in which they can provide the best possible performance, and to be free from harassment, discrimination or retaliation. All of the stories of #MeToo show that is not the case today.

European composers and songwriters must stand united. Sexual harassment, abuse and all manner of offensive behaviour is unacceptable and must cease immediately. Our belief is that in a diverse and inclusive industry, there exists no culture of silence and no room for structural oppression.

Now is the time to make a change. The goal is to have an industry free from oppression, sexual harassment and abuse. Not in fifty years, not in ten years – but now!

Latest News

ECCO Call for Works for Brussels is here!

The new call for works for the ECCO concert in Brussels 2020 is here! ECSA’s ECF Read More


    THE VON DER LEYEN COMMISSION   On 10 September 2019, the President Read More

Press Release: Alfons Karabuda becomes the new President of the International Music Council

Paris, 28th September 2019 This Saturday, Alfons Karabuda composer and President Read More