Women’s Literary Contests & Competitions

The following is a list of writing competitions for women. The description of each is taken directly from the most relevant website.

NB: These contests are open to entries by authors themselves. I have a separate resources page dedicated to awards given by nomination.

It is extraordinarily difficult to compile a list of open competitions as there are many of them; however, funding often prevents them from operating as more than a singular opportunity. I have therefore included only contests that run annually.

If you find a non-working link or know that a contest has ceased operation indefinitely, or if you know of an annual competition that should be added to this list, please do let me know. I appreciate your help in making this list as comprehensive as possible. Thank you!

— Nicole Melanson

Nicole Melanson - Writer, Poet, Editor of WordMothers


The Barnard Women Poets Prize  (USA)

The Barnard Women Poets Prize is given for an exceptional second collection of poems.


BBC Somali Young Female Poet of the Year Award

The contest is open to all women aged 16 to 35 with no restrictions on their level of experience or location. Entries for the award must be an original work of poetry, that is a maximum of 15 lines long and not more than one minute of recording, in Somali language. For further details, see BBC Somali.


The Coniston Prize

The Coniston Prize is an annual award that recognizes an exceptional group of poems by a woman writing in English. The winner receives $1,000 and is featured in Radar’s dedicated contest issue, which is released in October of each year. Finalists are also awarded publication.


Daisy Pettles House Older Women Writing Awards

Includes a full month’s rent-and-utility-free-residency in the furnished Daisy Pettles Writer’s House, a vintage 1920s arts and crafts bungalow in historic Bedford, Indiana, just south of Bloomington, Indiana (home of Indiana University) ; PLUS a $1,000 cash stipend, and an Award Certificate as Honorary Writer in Residence at the house for the year awarded.


Doris Bakwin Award for Writing by a Woman

The Bakwin Award honors full-length prose work (novel, short story collection, or memoir) by an author who is a woman. The winner will receive a $1,000 honorarium, and the winning book will be published by Carolina Wren Press.


Eludia Award

Hidden River Arts offers the Eludia Award, for a first book-length unpublished novel or collection of stories. The prize is open to women writers age 40 and older, who do not yet have a book-length publication of fiction.


Honey & Wax Book Collecting Prize

Annual prize of $1000 for an outstanding book collection conceived and built by a young woman. The contest is open to women book collectors in the United States, aged 30 or younger.


Hysteria Writing Competition

We don’t want stories, flash fiction or poetry about Hysterectomy; instead, we are looking for entries that appeal to our website visitors, who are mostly women between the ages of 25ish and 65ish; we accept entries in any genre except erotica or horror.


Joyce Parkes Women’s Writers Prize

$500 prize aimed at promoting and encouraging women writers in Australia.


The Kelsey Street Press Firsts! Contest

This contest is open to women-identified writers as well as writers with non-binary gender identities who have never published a full-length book of poetry, which we define as any publication of 48 pages or more.


Lexi Rudnitsky First Book Prize (USA)

This annual competition sponsors the publication of a poetry collection by a woman who has yet to publish a full-length book of poems.


The Lois Cranston Memorial Poetry Prize

$300 cash prize for up to 3 unpublished poems through CALYX Journal.


The Louis Kampf Writing Prize

MIT undergraduates: Please consider submitting your academic essays or creative writing (creative nonfiction, short stories, poetry, etc…) to the Louis Kampf Writing Prize in Women’s and Gender Studies. Submissions should provide thoughtful reflection using gender as a central category of analysis. $500 prize.


The Nancy Thorp Poetry Contest

The contest awards prizes for the best poems submitted by young women who are sophomores or juniors in high school or preparatory school.


Perugia Press Prize

For a First or Second Book by a Woman, inclusive of transgender women and female-identified individuals.


The Rachel Funari Prize for Fiction

The Rachel Funari Prize for Fiction is a themed fiction competition open to all women, female-identifying and non-binary Australian writers.


Red Hen Press Women’s Prose Prize

This award is for a previously unpublished, original work of prose. Novels, short story collections, memoirs, essay collections, and all other forms of prose writing are eligible for consideration.


The Wilder Series Poetry Book Prize

​The Wilder Series Book Prize is open to women over 50 years of age (established or emerging poets) and includes a $1000 prize, publication by Two Sylvias Press, 20 copies of the winning book, and a vintage, art nouveau pendant.


A Woman’s Write Novel Contest

One award of $500.00 will be awarded to the unpublished fiction book judged best by our judges.


Women Inspirational Poetry Contest


The Women of the World Poetry Slam

The Women of the World Poetry Slam (WOWps) is a performance poetry tournament designed for individual competition, where poets will perform four poems of varying lengths during preliminary bouts. Taking place March 15th – 19th, the top poets will go on to finals to compete for the title of, The 2017 Women of the World Champion!


Words and Women Prose Competition (UK)

National prize open to women writers over the age of 40. Regional prize open to women writers over the age of 16 living in the East of England.

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