Smirnoff’s marketing manager, Kyle Lesch, says, “We will be celebrating National Women’s Day on Wednesday, 9 August, to pay tribute to the women who helped shape South Africa and draw attention to issues still facing women today – particularly inequality.”

He adds, “Similarly, the ‘Equalizing Music’ initiative celebrates the women and role-players in the electronic music industry who are pushing to make a difference in gender parity, while highlighting the need for, and driving, gender diversity within the genre. After all, with Smirnoff, ‘Everyone’s Invited’.”

To bring about equal gender representation in the electronic music space, ‘Equalizing Music’ began with a push for industry partners to sign a pledge that solidifies its commitment to drive change.

Key industry leaders who have already signed include Spotify, Insomniac, and Mixmag, along with THUMP and Broadly, the electronic music and women-focused channels on the VICE magazine website. Together, these organisations are advancing gender representation across performance bookings, exposure in media, and music availability.

Smirnoff has also worked with THUMP and Broadly to curate a global list of influential woman-identified headliners – the Top 50 Women Making Noise – which can be viewed on the ‘Equalizing Music’ online platform.

The aim is to generate exposure of women in electronic music, raise awareness of their music, and encourage listeners to share their latest tracks. The list includes artists such as DJ Lambo from Nigeria, Honey Dijon from the United States, and Anna Lunoe from Australia.

“The 20 000 plus women who marched to the Union Buildings on 9 August 1956, in protest of the extension of pass laws to women, marked their movement with music by singing the protest song, Wathint’Abafazi Wathint’imbokodo, which was composed in honour of the occasion. Now, 61 years later, Smirnoff is doing the same with the tracks of the Top 50,” adds Lesch.

documentary has been released to inspire women to raise their voices for change. The film shares the stories of two electronic music DJs who made the Top 50 Women Making Noise list – The Black Madonna from Chicago and DJ Rachel from Uganda. Both artists have overcome challenges that women face in the industry and Smirnoff is sharing their stories of success and perseverance to inspire more women to speak out and demand change.

“Diageo is proud to support Smirnoff as they work to push the electronic music industry to become more diverse,” says Syl Saller, Diageo chief marketing and innovation officer. “Women have become marginalised within electronic music, and it is only right that we begin the hard work necessary to get them more exposure.

“Last May, a report by International Music Summit stated that the industry is now worth $7.1-billion. That’s a lot of opportunity for women, and the Smirnoff brand wants to work toward parity in music to equal the playing field,” adds Saller.

To shine a light on female DJs in South Africa, Smirnoff, together with Stones, will be supporting the Sisters of Spin competition being run from Tuesday, 1 August to Thursday, 30 November.

To enter, artists will need to upload a five to 10-minute mix on the Smirnoff Soundcloud page. Stones and Smirnoff will then select the 48 contestants (36 from Cape Town and 12 from Johannesburg) who will be competing at Stones sports bars.

The two women who take the top spots in their region will then compete against each other in the national final for a chance at the grand prize – R40,000 worth of DJ equipment and the opportunity to play at a major festival in 2018. Smirnoff will also be teaming up with Soul Candi to sponsor the best female DJ prize at the inaugural South African Dance Music Awards.