Taking down barriers through music
8 March 2023: the fascinating story of the Haitian artist Valancie reconciles innovation, technology and gender equality.
Valancie Etienne is a talented 26-year-old Haitian artist from Saint-Michel de l'Atalaye in the Artibonite department. She has dedicated her career to empowering women through music. Born with a passion for singing, she started with her church choir at the age of seven, and since then has used music as a tool to promote a better future for all women.
Valancie's commitment to women's empowerment became more evident during her participation in the “Rèl Fanm” project, an initiative of Jean Jean Roosevelt, UNICEF Goodwill Ambassador in Haiti. The project which came to light through a collaboration with UNICEF as part of the Spotlight Initiative with support from the European Union, focused on an album of 8 songs made by 8 women for 8 March 2022, International Women's Day. A bonus song composed by the 8 women together was added to the album.
“I'm a singer. Singing is my career, it's my life. It was the very first time that I was going to work on a project led only by women."
Thanks to “Rèl Fanm”, Valancie acquired new skills, met new people and expanded her reach. She has particularly received valuable training in the use of recording equipment and a home studio kit funded by Spotlight, which allowed her to work from home and produce her own music independently. It has empowered her and allowed her to pursue her dream of using her music to help other women.
“This project has been my best experience in music. I was able to meet other women, we worked together, we are a family now,” Valancie said happily.
Valancie's journey in the music industry, however, has not been easy and she has faced many challenges. The young woman faced inappropriate proposals when some individuals offered her help in exchange for sexual favors. She always refused and remained determined to chart her course on her own terms.
“A man once wrote to me offering help on the condition that I become his girlfriend, which I refused because my body is not a bargaining chip,” Valancie said.
Valancie uses her music to advocate for gender equality, mutual respect and the complementarity of gender roles, as her song in the album “Rèl Fanm” has it. “In my songs, I advocate for equality and mutual respect, so that man and woman can complement each other,” she says. Her commitment to creating positive change through her music is an inspiration to all women of her generation.
Valancie's determination to pursue her dream despite challenges and obstacles is admirable. “Sometimes I lack the means to complete a project and when I feel like giving up, I talk to my friends who comfort me, and I carry on”, she says. The story of Valancie reminds us that women can realize their dreams without compromising their values and their dignity.
Although Valancie was able to make music videos thanks to the “Rèl Fanm” project, the insecurity prevailing in the country made it hard to make joint concerts or other artistic activities to ensure continuity. “We were able to make songs, which means the project worked, but because of the insecurity, we cannot carry out activities together," she laments. However, she remains committed to using music to empower women and fight for their rights.
The young woman is preparing for the Grand Prix Découvertes RFI (Radio France Internationale), which underscores her passion for music and her dedication to the empowerment of women, a star ready to shine brightly. On this International Women's Day, the story of Valancie is a source of inspiration for women around the world. Her commitment to the emancipation of women through music is a step towards gender equality.
As Valancie herself says, "I want to tell you that you are all equal women, regardless of your economic background, and we all need to stand together." Let's take her words to heart and work together for a better future for all women.