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At the beginning of 2021 the PEN International Women Writers Committee commenced the PEN VIDA COUNT, which aims to identify gender disparity in the literary arena across the world, by relying on our network of 145 PEN centres to complete the count for their countries/ regions. We have started with the simplest category – literary prizes, for the last five years from 2016 to 2020.

As an organisation founded by a woman in 1921, Catherine Amy Dawson Scott, and which has included women writers into membership as early as in 1928 (at the Oslo Congress), PEN members are committed to living up to the terms of our Charter by which we all pledge ourselves to do our utmost to dispel all hatreds and to champion the ideal of one humanity living in peace and equality in one world.

In 2017 PEN delegates gathered in Lviv voted unanimously for the adoption of the Women’s Manifesto, a document that articulates our commitment to giving women writers voice. The PEN VIDA count is a method of us holding those in a position to address gender equality in the literary arena to account With data collected by PEN Centres in the PEN VIDA COUNT we will ask judges of literary prizes, journal editors who publish reviews, reviewers and others to be aware of gender bias they might hold and to address it to ensure women are given their fair place in the literary life of their communities across the globe.

We will report on the findings of the first PEN VIDA Count at the September PEN International Women Writers Committee to be held in the week of the 2021 PEN International Congress.

Should you have any questions, please contact:


PEN International Women Writers Committee Chair, Zoë Rodriguez

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