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Women Seizing the Word: PEN Vida UNESCO Count- report launch event

Women Seizing the Word

Monday 11th April 2022, 5 pm UK Time

PEN International, VIDA: Women in Literary Arts, and the United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), are pleased to present findings from their report Women Seizing the Word: The Participation of Women Writers in Ecuador, Guatemala, Honduras, Mexico, and Nicaragua.

The event will be live-streamed on the PEN International Facebook page on Monday 11th April 2022, 5 pm UK Time. To join, please use the following link.

With the participation of:

  • Burhan Somnez, author and President of PEN International.
  • Angélica Altuzar, poet, writer and Vice President of PEN Chiapas Pluricultural.
  • Gioconda Belli, author, novelist and poet.
  • Jennifer Clement, author and former President of PEN International (2015-2021).
  • Dina Meza, journalist, human rights defender, and President of PEN Honduras.
  • Karla Olascoaga, writer, historian, journalist, and President of PEN Guatemala.
  • Alicia Quiñones, Americas Regional Coordinator of PEN International.
  • Carlos Vásconez, a novelist, short story writer, essayist, columnist, educator, and President of PEN Ecuador.
  • Pedro Vaca Villarreal, Special Rapporteur for Freedom of Expression of the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR).
  • Frédéric Vacheron, UNESCO Representative in Mexico.

* Tanya Almada, translator.

Women Seizing the Word: the report

This report provides readers with insights into the systemic discrimination of women entrenched in the publishing industry and the protocols of literary awards in Ecuador, Mexico, Nicaragua, Honduras, and Guatemala. It finds that only 30% of women writers and journalists in the selected countries have access to spaces and opportunities which are key for the development of their careers. At the same time, new generations of women writers and journalists are finding ways to make their voices heard taking advantage of the tools offered by the digital age, including social networks platforms such as Facebook and Twitter, and virtual resources such as Zoom, among others.

This report is based on quantitative and qualitative research methods, and sheds light on the conditions, within the literary sector, which contributes to the exclusion and marginalization of women in the publishing industry, in which their intersecting identities such as race, mother tongue, socioeconomic status, cultural codes, sexual orientation, or age, among others, aggravate this discrimination.

PEN VIDA count: the project

PEN VIDA count is a project by PEN International’s Women Writers Committee, established in 2018 with the goal of fostering gender equality in literature. It was inspired by the PEN International Women’s Manifesto, a set of principles approved in 2017 during the PEN International 83rd Congress in Lviv, Ukraine, which aims to protect women's free expression by combating and eliminating their silencing worldwide.

In 2020 PEN International partnered with UNESCO to create a pilot program, the PEN VIDA UNESCO Count, for five countries in Latin America: Mexico, Guatemala, Honduras, Ecuador and Nicaragua. This report is the result of this partnership.

Practical information

The event will be held in Spanish, however, simultaneous translation in English will be available.

It will be recorded by the International Secretariat and will be live-streamed on Facebook.

Further details and technical information will be communicated to confirmed participants closer to the time of the event.