First official meeting of PEN Women Writers Committee held in Bled
PEN International President Jennifer Clement told the STA on Wednesday that changes were needed within the organisation.
According to the first female president, PEN's charter speaks about fighting racial, class and national discrimination but not about the discrimination of women. Changing the charter will be on the agenda when members meet for a congress in Spain in September.
"Women are more often victims of violence than men. This is also true for writers, including journalists," Clement said, adding that female journalists were under threat not only because of their work but also because of their gender.
"Violence against women must be understood as a form of censorship," she stressed and explained that 14 million child brides around the globe would never learn to read or ever write a book.
"Female writers must, also because of our ability to express ourselves, become advocates for our sisters, who represent half of humankind but are often silenced," meanwhile stressed Clara Cancline Franceschetti of the Swiss PEN Centre.
She presented a draft declaration on women's rights that could be submitted to the UN by PEN International, to define the right to physical integrity, including the free choice of partner and motherhood, and the right to education.
Another committee member, Fan Yanqiong of Independent Chinese PEN Center, should have attended the meeting in Bled but was detained by the Chinese police after being granted a visa to come to Slovenia, committee member Mira Tanja Tuma said.
Fan Yanqiong, who has been incarcerated on several occasions due to her activism, wanted to present her own story of helping victims of injustice despite her frail health in Bled this year. In 30 years, she has advocated over 200 cases for little people who stood up against wrongdoing of officials but failed.