On International Women’s Day, the world celebrated once more the social, economic, cultural and political achievements of women. Whilst we celebrated, we were also reminded that the fight for gender equality and parity is far from over. Despite gains in recent years, this continues to be true in the creative industries. In the United States, only 11.5% of creative directors are women, with an even smaller percentage women of colour. In the African context, although the lack of data makes it difficult to measure the gender gap in the creative sector and women’s input into the creative economy, we can safely assume that women are still significantly underrepresented. We must empower women, particularly African women, to take up space in the creative sector and to tell stories from their perspective.
Supporting female-led creative projects in Africa, such as films and documentaries, is essential for the overall socio-economic development of the continent. Here again, representation matters because it empowers an entire generation of African women to take ownership of their stories and how they want them to be told. Stories from women on the continent can resonate with women in the diaspora, solidifying common experiences or creating new perceptions. Beyond positive representation, encouraging women in the creative sector will have a tangible impact on strengthening the creative economy across Africa. The creative economy has the potential to have a significant economic and social development impact, creating job opportunities as well as more opportunities for Africans to express themselves.
In creative sectors, such as films and television, empowering African women means bringing more African women both in front and behind the camera. Demonstrating the depth and diversity of women in African cinema will enable films to resonate with a wider audience, from the continent to diaspora. Gender parity off screen is crucial and there is an ever greater need for African women behind the screen to write and direct authentic stories that can best be shared through a female perspective. Including African women in all aspects of the creative process, from conception to execution is vital for us to empower women in creative spaces.
“We must choose to challenge the status quo in the creative industries and ensure the upcoming generation of African women has more opportunities than the generations that have come before.”
– Dr Yaya Moussa
In order to promote real change, we need to get to the root of the issue. Too often, women and girls across the continent do not even consider a career in the creative industry. Why? Because no one ever showed them it can be a viable career path to explore. There is a lack of pan-African training programmes and mentoring that must be addressed. Investing in a new generation of female talent means identifying, training, mentoring and placing women in a nurturing environment by building capacity and a sustainable ecosystem for them to thrive.
For me, creating Africa Prime, a video-on-demand (SVOD) streaming platform curating pan-African content, meant providing a platform and opportunities for African creatives, including women, to showcase their work. Ultimately, I want Africa Prime to evolve into a fully integrated media outlet producing and distributing original pan-African content for audiences around the world. I am dedicated to making sure African women play an instrumental role in all aspects of Africa Prime, from creating and curating content, to production and distribution.
In line with this year’s International Women’s Day theme, we must choose to challenge the status quo in the creative industries and ensure the upcoming generation of African women has more opportunities than the generations that have come before. Cultivating female talent is vital for tangible change and this must start right at home by offering much needed funding, mentoring and appropriate training.