Netta from Israel wins the 2018 Eurovision Song Contest with Toy.
Netta from Israel wins the 2018 Eurovision Song Contest with Toy. Photo: Andres Putting

Happy International Women's Day!

International Women's day is celebrated each year on 8 March. It is a focal point in the movement for women's rights. To celebrate this day, we're taking a look at 7 inspirational women who we know and love from the Eurovision Song Contest.

The Eurovision Song Contest is known for its inspirational people, and today we're paying homage to 7 women who took - or will take - to the Eurovision stage to perform or present.

Netta

Netta on the Orange Carpet 2019Thomas Hanses

One of the most recent inspirational Eurovision women is Netta Barzilai; she won the Eurovision Song Contest in 2018 with the song Toy.

In 2012, Netta was an instructor and manager of guidance counsellors in a professional Camp for Young Musicians. She also served as a singer in the Israeli Navy band and continued her musical training there.

In 2016, Netta co-founded an improvisation singing ensemble called The Experiment, touring Israel and collaborating with the famous Bat Sheva ensemble. She then received the leading role in the theatre production Running on the Sea, with theatre professor Ruth Kanner and composer Avshalom Ariel, who was one of her backing vocalists at the Eurovision Song Contest.

In 2017, Netta got another lead role in Noam Inbar's piece called The Book of Challenges, an a capella music work that was part of the Tel Aviv Museum's Singing in the Squares project. Netta was a soloist for 2 years in the successful show group Gaberband, performing both in Israel and abroad and has been giving looping workshops for young musicians in high schools.

In 2018, she participated in and won the Israeli national selection for the Eurovision Song Contest, HaKokhav HaBa L'Eurovizion, and then represented the country at the 2018 Contest and won it with an impressive 529 points.

Chantal Janzen & Edsilia Rombley

Chantal and Edsilia will be the female hosts of the Eurovision Song Contest 2020.

Chantal Janzen was born in 1979 in Tegelen and studied at the Amsterdam University of the Arts. She rose to fame as a musical actress, performing in Tarzan, Petticoat and Hij gelooft in mij. She also acted in several well-known Dutch movies. Chantal started her TV career at public broadcaster AVRO, where she hosted the award show Gouden Televizier-Ring Gala from 2008 to 2010. In 2011, she made the transfer to commercial broadcaster RTL where she hosted shows like Holland’s Got Talent and The Voice of Holland. Chantal Janzen won the Televizier-Ster award for best TV presenter an impressive 5 times. Aside from her television career, she also launched a 360° media brand, with a magazine, website, app, online shop, television shows and live events.

Edsilia Rombley was born in Amsterdam in 1978 and is no stranger to the Eurovision Song Contest. In 1998, she represented the Netherlands with Hemel & Aarde, finishing 4th. In 2007, she took part for the second time with On Top of the World. Edsilia also presented the Dutch voting and jury results twice. Since 2005, the popular singer has completed 7 theatre tours and, since 2014, she has been performing annually as part of the formation Ladies of Soul. In 2019, she hosted Eurovision in Concert which she will also do in 2020.

Eleni Foureira

Eleni Foureira at Pride Madrid 2019Eleni Foureira

Runner up of the Eurovision Song Contest 2018 was Eleni Foureira. With her song Fuego, she received 426 points from the jury and public. Eleni was born in 1987 in Albania and is a pop singer and actress. She started her solo career in 2010 with the release of her first album. Dubbed the "Queen of Pop", the singer has had several successes in both Greece and Cyprus.

After the Eurovision Song Contest, Eleni performed at Pride parties all over Europe, travelled to Los Angeles to attend Elton John's Oscar afterparty, and recently released a new single Yayo.

Eleni was part of the Switch Song of the Eurovision Song Contest 2019 as well, where she performed Verka Serduchka's song Lasha Tumbai. The video has almost 7.5 million views:

NikkieTutorials

NikkieTutorials, online presenter of Eurovision 2020NPO/AVROTROS/NOS

The Netherlands' most famous internet star, makeup artist NikkieTutorials (Nikkie de Jager), will report on the 65th Eurovision Song Contest in Rotterdam via our online channels. She will also record a special backstage YouTube series with the participating artists, report from the red carpet during the Opening Ceremony and will be seen at all 3 live shows.

With over 13 million subscribers on YouTube and 13.8 million on Instagram, self-described professional hair & makeup artist and beauty guru NikkieTutorials is the biggest Dutch internet star of the moment. Her success reaches far beyond national borders: Nikkie has done the makeup of stars such as Kim Kardashian, Jessie J and Lady Gaga.

Nikkie is an inspiration to millions around the world:

Lys Assia

The first-ever winner of the Eurovision Song Contest was a woman, and we would be remiss not to highlight her in this hommage. She won the very first Contest in 1956, representing Switzerland with her song Refrain. Lys is the only Swiss contestant to have ever won the Eurovision Song Contest as Switzerland's other winner from 1988, Céline Dion, was a Canadian citizen at the time.

Petra Mede

Rehearsals in Sweden with 2016 Eurovision Song Contest co-presenter Petra MedeStina Stjernkvist (SVT)

Last, but certainly not least: Petra Mede! She has presented the Eurovision Song Contest not once, but twice!

Petra Mede is a Swedish comedian and television host. In 2009, she was voted Sweden’s best female comedian and became the host of Melodifestivalen. Petra’s unique, raw sense of humour led her to start her own Petra Mede Show on TV3 and today she continues to host A-list events, conferences, television shows and gigs all over Sweden.

In 2016, she returned to the Eurovision stage to host the event alongside Måns Zelmerlöw, winner of the Eurovision Song Contest 2015. She then said: "It’s so incredible that I, once again, get the honour to be a part of the Eurovision Song Contest and doing this together with Måns Zelmerlöw, it’s a dream come true. He’s extremely professional so the one to be worried about is me, and what I’m going to wear. It’s like when I once dared to try a rollercoaster for the first time and someone then - when I’m standing there euphoric of happiness - comes and tells me: ”You can go one more time, and this time together with a gorgeous guy!”

Women in Music Days

Of course, there are many more inspirational women who participated in the Eurovision Song Contest over the years, like Loreen, Céline Dion and Natalia Vodianova. This is why the EBU Music community launched the Women in Music Days.

To highlight the achievements of women composers and musicians in all genres on or around the day, EBU radio channels are programming events celebrating women’s contribution to music, sharing first-class and diverse musical content, as well as other features related to women.

400 radio stations in 40 countries have already signed up to support the Women In Music initiative, of which over 200 are in North America alone.

Marin Alsop, Chief Conductor of the Vienna Radio Symphony Orchestra and judge of Eurovision Young Musicians 2017 said: "When I started, most people didn't believe I would ever achieve my dream. Today women are undoubtedly on their way taking positions that have been out of reach for centuries – positions they are entitled to achieve, just like their male colleagues. Of course, there is still more work to do: more glass ceilings have to break, archaic prejudices have to be overcome, structures have to change, and power has to be shared."

Be sure to follow #WomenInMusicDays on social media.

Which Eurovision women have inspired you? Let us know in the comments!

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