Women's Day In New Delhi : Selector Pro

International Women's Day is celebrated on March 8 every year. It is a focal point in the movement for women's rights, with myriad aspects spanning continents, nations, cultures and societies across the world. Our focus being electronic music and inclusivity of female talent, covering various artists, events, institutions and local groups engaged in empowerment of female talent in music. In New Delhi, Wildcity in association with the British Council hosted the 2nd edition of Selector Pro on 8th, 9th and 10th March this year. A series of dialogues, training courses, seminars and performances marked the 3 days at Selector Pro, attended by many emerging female talent and professionals in the field of music, entertainment and those into social change. DJ and production workshops, gender sensitisation in night-life culture, club sound ethics, industry development were some of the highlights of the 3 day program.



Inclusive, Equal & Safe Spaces.
Since female participation within the fabric of Indian culture remains pitiable low and mostly fragmented, programs like Selector Pro provide much needed platforms for education, discussion, networking and possible change. A running theme at the event was of finding legitimate, safe and equal spaces for women in electronic music, club culture and within DJs and professionals. The overall air of the event in terms of curation and presentation was Indo-British given the two partner institutions involved in the creation and execution of Selector Pro. The DJ workshop was conducted by Rhythm Sister from UK, while the electronic music production workshop lead by Sasha Perera Elsewhere from UK with _RHL (Sulk Station) from Bangalore. 'Creating Safer Inclusive Nightlife Spaces For Women' anchored by Kripi Malviya (Tatva) and Good Night Out from UK. Law and Nightlife, a discussion presented by Karuna Nundy [Supreme Court Lawyer] spoke of legal rights, conduct, ethics and understanding the need for "safe spaces" for women and LGBTQ groups inside night-clubs and music events. Divyang Rowkavi presented a course on techniques involved in club sound systems. Themes of Feminism, Social Media & 'Communicating Consent' were put under the scanner by Anoo Bhuyan & Kripi Malviya. The 'wrap party' on sunday was hosted by Coven Code, a female collective propagating rights, inclusivity and electronic music based in New Delhi. Native Instruments, Ableton, Bira, Absolut and Sennheiser being the sponsors of the event.



Brands and Institutions. The moral glow?
Even as curated events like Selector Pro stand to create awareness, empowerment and change (all the hope and enthusiam included) one must also discuss the hegemony that persists within the institutional mindset and infrastructure. The knowledge, awareness, concepts and tools seem exclusive to mostly women from well-to-do english speaking background, consequently excluding a vast majority of the female population (and talent) in India. Institutions and brands within the process of empowerment often do not question the big structural biases and the not-so-inclusive ethics which are taken for granted by women and men alike. A 'trickle down change' versus an open platform for all to access. On further inspection, certain involved brands clearly have a business agenda at such events and programs. While in Berlin, on women's day this year Ableton gave away lifetime licenses to select women artists, in India their hard marketing ethics provided only five-day limited licenses. Philanthropy or business expansion we wonder? Similar is the case with Native Instruments and Sennheiser who may provide software and hardware 'gratis' to the participants, yet the agenda being that India and Indian talent is a vast untapped market (profit). The same 'institutionally favoured' role-models (divas) that visit India year after year is also obvious. The 'moral glow' of these institutions, brands and educators fails to address (and include) women who are most in need of resources, awareness and transformation. Yet one may argue that such programs and ventures, however exclusive, do inspire and empower some women to transform the playing field bit by bit, and consequently create more opportunities and a bigger impact. As the debate over inclusion and female representation remains open, far from reaching democratic results with a vast majority of female talent (in music) in India that remains muted and unrepresented.



Looking Ahead!
Selector Pro culminated with a wrap party, co-produced by Coven Code and the participants, manifesting as a live showcase in front of an invited audience. The venue was buzzing with dialogues, ideas and future plans between participants, curators and visiting audience. Three select participants from the workshops will wing over to the 3rd edition of Red Bull Music Academy's Synth Day celebrations in May 2019, in Mumbai. In essence the Selector Pro is an unique attempt in India, aimed to bring awareness about women's rights and building new frameworks for supporting female talent - to practice and thrive equally, questioning male hegemony and oppressive structures. Poised and brimming with hope, we sure hope such programs have a wider and far reaching impact, with increased openness, inclusivity and participation from all parts of society.



Photos by Dolly Devi. 
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