Axelle Red: a socially engaged artist


Axelle Red, under the name Fabienne Demal, is not only a famous Belgian singer and composer, but also a socially committed artist. She is one of those artivists devoting their life and career to advance the humanitarian cause, i.e. women and children’s rights and world peace. 


Axelle deals with not easy topics: extremism, anti-globalisation, the fight against anti-personnel mines, child soldiers and drugs. Some of these issues have been flagged at her song Manhattan-Kaboul that received NRJ Music Award in 2003 and Sisters & Empathy in 2008.


As a UNICEF ambassador, Axelle has contributed several times to UNICEF’s values. Since 1997 she has been supporting the rights and conditions of women and children in war-torn regions and developing countries and started a campaign protesting against anti-personnel mines, during the enactment of the Ottawa Treaty. In 2004, she led the campaign against female genital mutilation and child marriages in Niger and visited Sri Lanka to aid the people who had been hit by tsunami. In 2006, she took part in the 0110 concerts against intolerance and racism in Antwerp and Brussels. In 2007, she had a debate on prostitution at the International Film Festival and Forum on Human Rights in Geneva and went to Sierra Leone for the campaign "Together, saving 4 million babies".


Thanks to her humanitarian work with different actors, such as UNICEF, Oxfam and Amnesty International she has been awarded and recognised as a valuable figure for the fight against social injustices. Starting from 2005, she was officially thanked by Kofi Annan for her humanitarian work, in 2006 she received the highest artistic honour, becoming Chevalier dans l'Ordre des Arts et des Lettres, presented to her by the French Minister of culture, Renaud Donnedieu de Vabres, in 2007 King Albert II presented her with the medal of Commandeur in de Kroonorde for her social commitment and in 2008 the University of Hasselt awarded Axelle the honorary title of Doctor Honoris Causa for her social commitment as an artist and human rights' activist. 


Additionally, on the occasion of International Women's Day, Axelle was also guest speaker at the Council of Europe during a debate on domestic violence. Her most recent contribution to children and education has been in 2019 during a webinar organised by the European Commision. 

From these insights, it can be said that Axelle Red is one of those cultural diplomacy actors who through their art have a positive impact on society, contributing to peace and social change and highlighting the fundamental role of culture. 

Ilaria Ragni

Trainee, HICDB