Young women are currently underrepresented in the Southern African music scene and, when present, often play a subordinate role as dancers and as backing vocalists. This is related to societal expectations and cultural notions of a woman's place within social spaces.
NGOMA Girls workshops are not only a platform for young women to develop their musical skills, but also to build their self-esteem, confidence and communication skills in order to be able to assert themselves better within both their personal and musical communities.
One day before the main festival activities begin, a session of workshops called Girls Only! take place. These are specifically aimed at young women, and give them the chance to try out different instruments, take part in vocal training, and learn about stage performance and music rights. There is also the opportunity to freely discuss gender, sexuality, and HIV/AIDS issues.
Having gained an understanding of the Music Crossroads program, it is hoped that NGOMA Girls participants will be motivated to start their own band, and have a chance at playing at one of the upcoming MC festivals.
In addition, MC Training centres frequently use the media and social publicity within the local community to explain and highlight the importance of the NGOMA Girls activities within the Music Crossroads program, and to reach out to new participants.
"As a young female musician who had tried without success to get into music school or have the chance to perform on stage, it was like a dream come true when I learnt about the Music Crossroads program in Zambia. Undergoing some form of training to help me develop my skills, and a chance to gauge my abilities through the competitions, gave me so much hope." - Olivia Chanda (14 years old), bass player and four-time Music Crossroads participant.