In many communities around the world, women are important culture bearers fostering the transmission of local traditions to future generations. However, women also forge new roles in their communities in order to express themselves and to get their voices heard. In these efforts for empowerment, music can serve as a tool for refashioning oneself and one’s place in society, thereby building futures that might not have been possible otherwise. Music also frequently serves as a space for imagination and dreaming, for experimentation with alternative ideas about the past, the present, and the future.

The aim of this symposium is to discuss the agency of women musicians worldwide, and the ways in which they use music to construct imaginary or real futures for themselves. Often working in patriarchal environments and restricted by social norms and expectations of their communities, women demonstrate significant resilience and creativity as they seek to create space for musical activities. In this regard, mutual support and networks between women are important. Sometimes women choose music because it provides a platform for presenting their views and/or influencing their communities in ways that would not be allowed otherwise.