There’s a new literary prize: $50,000 cash for a short story, novel, or screenplay written in English—in any genre—that portrays one or more well-rounded female protagonists. This, as anyone who reads this blog knows, matters to me. Stories about women, stories about women as real people, human beings in, of, and for ourselves are vital to building and growing society. Women’s stories matter and are often devalued.

The Half the World Global Literati Prize is “specifically designed to put the spotlight on real female characters and positively impact how women are represented in contemporary writing.” They are looking for “work that gives fresh insight into the lives of women.” It’s a pretty interesting line-up of judges:

  • Anne Harrison, producer for the Oscar, BAFTA and Golden Globe nominated film The Danish Girl
  • Dr Lisa Tomlinson, scholar, cultural critic and professor of English literature at the University of West Indies
  • Margie Orford, internationally acclaimed writer, award-winning journalist, and President of PEN South Africa
  • Gina Otto, best-selling author of Cassandra’s Angel and founder of children’s social activation platform Change My World Now
  • Kenneth Goh, well-respected Editor-In-Chief of Harper’s BAZAAR Singapore
  • K.F. Breene, international best-seller of the Darkness and Warrior Chronicles series
  • Michael Marckx, lecturer, writer, environmental activist and former CEO of Spy
  • Debra Langley, Executive Director of Half the World Holdings.

This reasonably diverse crew are looking for unpublished work in one of three categories:

  • Short story (up to 7,500 words)
  • Novels (40,000 words or more)
  • Screenplay (for a movie or episode of a TV show)

All entries “will be judged on a mixture of factors; concept and originality, structure and pacing, character development and dialogue, creative flair and commercial potential.” Each entry (you can submit up to five) costs $20. Winners get $50,000 (US dollars) plus “the opportunity for a publishing or film production deal with our world-renowned partners.” It’s a little unclear what this means, exactly, but as the winner keeps the copyright in their work, I’m cautiously optimistic. (Read the full rules here.)

The deadline is 8 June. Enter here.