Tunisian women, who say they have long been excluded from the world of turntables and electronic music flock to a local DJ academy to help, launch a career for themselves.

Many of the students and teachers say working late in nightclubs or bars along with a lack of access to training resources are just some of the difficulties they have faced over the years, and are one of the main reasons the academy was founded.

The DJ academy for girls trains up students, giving them hands on experience in addition to their theoretical modules to battle stereotypes in the North African country that music mixing can only be performed by men.

“One time I will never forget it, after I did a set there was someone who stopped me and told me “for a girl you are a very good DJ”, he said that when he sees a girl on stage he expects less, but he said for a girl, I surprised him,” said co-founder of La Fabrique, Haifa Bazdeya.

Last month, as part of the International 16 Days of activism against gender-based violence, Le Fabrique chose 16 students from their courses to perform online to raise awareness on equality and ending violence against women.

Tunisian DJ Olfa Arfaoui and co-founder of La Fabrique began working in the field in 2017 and had been fortunate to find training in Tunis organised by the German Goethe Institute.

But once the programme ended, Arfaoui said she couldn’t find a space where girls could further develop their skills and learn new techniques.

As a form of protest at the music scene, Arfaoui along with her colleague, Reem Sharafi in 2018 launched a music platform – an independent initiative – establishing the first DJ Academy for women and gender minorities in Tunisia and the MENA region.

The issue of violence against women remains significant in Tunisia, despite a law passed in 2017 which punishes all forms of harassment.

Nearly 65 000 complaints were registered in 2019, according to the latest figures from the Ministry of Women, with some 3 700 cases processed.

The Tunisian DJ Academy has taught 50 students in Tunis since its inception and has expanded to include other regions in the country, including a group of trainers and 7 female professionals who are proficient in electronic music as a creative craft and source of income.