Tunisian women mix beats and break taboos - in pictures

Female DJs help other women break into a male-dominated industry

All photos: AFP

Yasmina Gaida, centre, known professionally as Fouchika Junior, works with students at the "DJ Academy for Girls" at the French Institute of Tunisia. The project, supported by international groups, has trained about 100 female DJs in the past three years.

The academy, which offers workshops at weekends, charges between €80 and €90 ($90-$101) for a 36-hour module that runs over three months. "DJing isn't very common among women," Fouchika said. "I'm trying to give them an opportunity so they understand that a woman can be a DJ in Tunisia – or anywhere."

Nada Benmadi, an aspiring sound engineer, practises during her first mixology lesson. "I want to bring music lovers together to dance and spread positive energy," she said.

Fouchika, whose DJ name means "hyper" in Tunisian Arabic, said club owners were sometimes wary of hiring a female DJ. "When it's a man, they say: 'OK, send me your profile on SoundCloud,' and they can go and mix," she said. "But when it's a girl, they ask, 'have you ever mixed before?' They see it as a technical thing and so not really made for girls."

Olfa Arfaoui, right, set up the academy in 2018. "DJing isn't seen as 'safe' for Tunisian women. It's seen as a difficult trade dominated by men and which happens in an environment that can be toxic or even violent for women." She said DJing allowed women "to use their passion for music to earn money" in a country with 40 per cent youth unemployment and where only 28 per cent of women work.

Former student Roua Bida, right, said was frustrated by men who "think we're going to take away their space". She is helping to form a collective of female DJs alongside artists such as Fouchika. "If we each battle on our own, we'll always have the same problems, but if we're united ... people will give us a chance," Bida said.

Updated: December 2nd 2021, 7:58 AM