Girls Rock London (GRL) is an award-winning charity empowering young and adult women, trans, and non-binary people to express themselves through music creation and performance.
We whole-heartedly support their mission to demystify music-making, challenge gender inequality in the music industry and provide safe, nurturing and joyful environments in which people can develop musically, personally and socially.
“It is important at such a crucial moment in young women’s development to help instil in them a belief that their ideas and talents are of equal interest and worth to the world as that of their male counterparts.
In addition, knowing that half of the openings within the programme are offered free to those from low income backgrounds, making the production of music accessible to all young women regardless of socio-economics is especially important to me”
Shirley Manson (Garbage), Ambassador of Girls Rock London
Camp co-ordinator and co-founder Geraldine Smith says:
“You can’t be what you can’t see” is something we say a lot at Girls Rock London.
Women are combating a lack of visibility at all levels of the UK music industry. Nowhere shows this more starkly than the UK music festival scene, which provides such an important platform for emerging and established artists.
At Reading 2015, 78 out of 87 acts were all-male, with only 3 all-female and 6 mixed gender bands. That is a 90% all-male line-up.
So, why does it matter that fewer women are making and performing music than men? Not least because all of us are missing out on half the population’s creative output! It also matters because music has the power to change people’s lives – and effect change in society.
Music is a powerful vehicle for self-expression, and making and performing music can improve people’s well-being. So, when one half of our population is less likely to experience these benefits, we are talking about a societal injustice.
We believe the context for this lack of representation is what’s happening to young women at high school age, which research shows is a time when their self-confidence levels drop.
These two facts combined – the under-representation of women in music and confidence issues with young women that can last a lifetime – were the motivating factors for a group of female musicians, including myself, to set up Girls Rock London.
We use ‘rock camps’ to work intensively with participants over the course of a few days, giving their confidence and self-esteem a boost, and increasing the number who make and perform music.
At our camps, participants learn the basics of an instrument, form a band with other participants, write a song and perform in front of a live audience in just six days.
In addition to equipping participants with the tools to create music, we book female bands and acts to perform at camp and hold Q&A sessions with these artists afterwards, allowing participants to speak directly to women in the industry.
We facilitate workshops about body image, gender and the media, band identity and lyric-writing. We encourage young people to reflect on their experiences and lives and to take risks in their music-making. In encouraging young people to support each other we place a lot of emphasis on kindness.
Of course, gender is only one aspect of people’s lives and identities, and the young people we work with also experience income inequality, racism, barriers related to disability and a range of other issues. We work hard to ensure that young people from low-income backgrounds are able to access our services.
We provide a minimum of 50% of the places at our young people’s camp completely free, and work with partners in Hackney to identify young women who would benefit from our approach.