Organisers of the prestigious Peer Gynt Literary Award, Malawi Writers Union (Mawu), have decried the poor participation of women in the competition despite having an overall good response in terms of submission of manuscripts.
Out of 53 entries, eight were from women and only one has made it to the last 13. The winner, who will walk away with K8 million, will be announced today at an event scheduled for Latitude 13 in Lilongwe.
A panel of three judges comprising Jack Mapanje, James Ng’ombe and Zambia’s Ellen Banda Aaku was elected to scrutinise the manuscripts.
“It is unfortunate that few women submitted manuscripts. We would wish the numbers were higher. But of course we are happy with the woman who has made it to the last 13. She has never written before. It’s so encouraging having her reach the finals. In fact, there are only six known writers on the list, the rest are new,” said Mawu president Sambalikagwa Mvona.
Mvona said there is need to encourage more women writers.
“There are always high numbers of female writers in the short stories categories. We think perhaps issues of gender are one of the challenges withdrawing women from writing or probably they take writing as an art for men,” Mvona said while urging women to take the art seriously.
“There is drought in creative writing. The only known women writers in the country are Emily Mkamanga, Walije Gondwe and Janet Karim,” said Mvona.
The 13 manuscripts that have made it are Pilgrims Together, Why Poverty, Certain Nights, His Excellency Papa, Evil Assignments, Tina From Grief to Grace, Fractured Dreams, Musings from the Street, Land And Flames, Nightmares from Dreams, Azotus The Kingdom, The Import Substitute and No Grapes from the Bramble Bush.