For over ten years, the PEN International's Civil Society Programme, supported by Sida and Clifford Chance, has been working to promote literature in education, increase youth engagement and to bring empowerment through literature around the world.
The Civil Society Programme currently consists of 23 PEN Centre-led projects. Each project is focused on working within communities, many marginalised in terms of literature and language, to promote writing and reading as essential for a healthy, vibrant and representative civil society. A large number of Centres also carry out advocacy to support these communities in accessing creative and critical education and literature in their local languages. Together, they all contribute to the collective goal of the programme: to ensure that freedom of expression is understood and asserted and that civil society expresses itself creatively and critically, enhancing freedom of expression policy and practice.
Our Centres are working across the globe, for example:
In Lebanon, PEN is running a number of theatre workshops and open readings, bringing displaced writers and their literature into the local Lebanese community in Beirut in order to build cohesion, dialogue and networks across cultures – they have already seen signs of those attending these events questioning their preconceived ideas around migration.
In Uganda, the PEN Centre is running creative workshops for prisoners in some of the highest security female and male prisons in the country. Through poetry, theatre & creative writing, a number of inmates have said they been given hope of a second chance, in a country that often disregards people in prisons as ‘without value’.
In Argentina, the Centre runs flash-fiction workshops in cultural centres in various ‘villas’ (informal settlements) in Buenos Aires. They have found that the condensed nature of this form of writing has helped young people and domestic workers to express themselves more freely and to feel empowered.
Through these projects and many more, for over a decade our PEN Centres have been working across continents strengthen civil society. For more information on previous and current projects, click here.
For more information please contact Romana Cacchioli, Director of International Programmes: Romana.cacchioli[@]pen-international.org