New Delhi: A new literary prize for women announced on Thursday aims to put the spotlight on women writers and also shrink the gap that comes to awarding the work of men and women in writing.

Instituted by the New Delhi-based women’s platform SheThePeople, novels and short story collections by single authors in English or regional languages will be eligible for the Women Writers’ Prize for fiction.

“Works of fiction submitted for the award should have female protagonists written by Indian women writers residing in India. The protagonists should be engaged in an honest struggle to improve their own, and thus their sisters’ fate which may have been negatively impacted by economic, gender, class, social, or any other discrimination,” the organisers said.

Each publishing house can send up to four submissions. Books submitted should have been published between August 1, 2020, and October 1, 2021. The award carries a prize money of Rs 50,000. In case of translated work, the award money will be shared equally between the writer and the translator.

The submission deadline is November 25. The longlist will be announced on January 20, 2022, the shortlist on February 15 and the winner will be named on March 1, 2022.

“It is the wide range of women’s writing, which is ever-growing, that the inaugural Women Writers’ Prize aims to shine a light on. There is a visible gap when it comes to awarding the work of men and women in almost all fields, including writing that needs to be urgently shrunk,” the organisers said.

According to prize mentor and novelist Shashi Deshpande, the idea of the insignificance of women’s lives and experiences has spilled over into their writing and branded it as trivial and insignificant, whereas, the truth is that every single human experience is part of the infinite tapestry of the human story; without women’s stories, the record remains incomplete.

“A literary prize exclusively for women’s writing can right the wrong and give women’s writing the prestige and dignity that all writing deserves,” she said.

Founder of SheThePeople and this prize, Shaili Chopra, said she believes there is a need to read more of women’s writing and understand and absorb stories as told by women.

“We also need to champion more female authors from India, whose writings bring new and inclusive elements to the idea of the written word,” she added.

Prize curator and author Shinie Antony said this award is for original, path-breaking women writers telling their stories in exciting new ways. “This award is exclusively to honour women writers among us who stun us with their extraordinary literary merit.”

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