International Women’s Day: Celebrating the Women of Buddhism

By Anne Wisman
Buddhistdoor Global | 2018-03-08 |
Nuns in Kham, Tibet. Photo © James GritzNuns in Kham, Tibet. Photo © James Gritz

Today is International Women’s Day, and although gender equality and inclusion should be on the agenda every day of the year, we will pay some extra attention today to the women in and of Buddhism.

International Women’s Day is a celebration, the day when women of all backgrounds are recognized and celebrated for their achievements. It is also a day for renewing the global fight for women’s rights and participation in society, for equality, and for inclusion.

Today, almost a 110 years since the first International Women’s Day, the campaign theme is “Press for Progress.” We have much to celebrate, but also much more still to achieve. And after a year that included the 15th Sakyaditha conference in Hong Kong, and the #MeToo and #TimesUp movements, which continue to gain ground across the globe, women all over the world—from Asia and the Americas, to Europe, the Middle East, and Africa—are asking for attention, sometimes even taking to the streets to #PressforProgress, reminding everyone that they are here and ready to stand up for what is right.

Here at Buddhistdoor Global we thoroughly believe that when women are given equality, opportunity, and inclusion, it is not just women that are uplifted, men are also elevated, and by extension society as a whole. In order to grow toward “progress” as a community and as a sangha, we need women, both monastic and lay, as teachers and students, just as much as we need men. We need to work together and to listen to each other.

Buddhistdoor Global, and many other Buddhist media organizations, are working hard to ensure a truly authentic, authoritative, and honest representation of Buddhist women on our platform. And this year, we are seeking to up the ante: our 2018 Special Issue, to be launched later this month, will focus on the Voices of Buddhist Women, aiming to represent the story of the Women of Buddhism—of all traditions, of all ethnicities, and all ages, lay and monastic. It is about their journey, their struggle, and their insights, told in their own voices.   

We have come a long way, but the road to inclusion and equality in the Buddhist world (and beyond) is still a long one. But with the continuous efforts of men and women all over the world, we are taking small steps every day. Sticking to the celebratory (and somewhat defiant) character of the day, we have decided to spotlight some of our articles written by or featuring Buddhist women setting examples, challenging the status quo, and giving a face to the gender gap in the Buddhist world; celebrating their achievements.

Nuns in the Tibetan Tradition: Latest Developments and Future Prospects

Dominique Butet discusses the status of two of the main issues in the debate on women’s emporwerment: access for women to the highest level of Buddhist education—the geshemadegree—and the restoration of full monastic ordination—gelongma or bhikshuni ordination.

Read more . . .

Historic Vinaya Teaching at Sravasti Abbey – A First for Buddhist Nuns in the United States

Buddhistdoor Global columnist Harsha Menon reports on a historic event for nuns in the United States: A lecture by Master Wu Yin and her disciples on what it means to be a fully ordained Buddhist nun.

Read more . . .

Why Education Matters: Improving Female Empowerment and Health Practices in Nepal

Sónia Gomes discusses why access to sanitation and hygiene is a basic necessity for female empowerment in Nepal, and how she is trying to make a difference with her organization: the Naldjorma Project, which seeks to empower and educate women (starting with nuns) on sanitation and health.

Read more . . .

One Face of Liberation: Buddhist Feminism in Japan

Buddhistdoor Global columnist Gereon Kopf looks back at the unique life and feminist beliefs of Zen Buddhist Hiratsuka Raichō, a truly unconventional yet devoted Buddhist for her time.

Read more . . .

A Light in the Darkness of the Slums of India

Buddhistdoor Global columnist Shuyin visits Ayya Yeshe and her ashram in Nagpur, India, where 30 girls (from different backgrounds and states in India) are given the chance to pursue education in a safe, caring, and supportive environment.

Read more . . .

Buddhistdoor View: Strengthening the Tradition of Women’s Leadership in Buddhism

In this editorial we explore how to nurture and reinforce leadership by women for the whole community, without backtracking into old habits or sliding into complacency.

Read more . . .

Teaching Buddhism in the West: One Nun’s Story

Ven. Zhi Ru discusses facing cultural misconceptions and disseminating the Dharma as a Chinese Buddhist nun.

Read more . . .

Buddhist Women in Mongolia: Interview with Kunze Chimed

Buddhistdoor Global’s Eastern Europe Correspondent Lyudmila Klasanova interviews Kunze Chimed, a gifted singer and Mongolian yogini who follows and preserves the ancient traditions of Buddhist women in Mongolia, and chairwoman of “Buman Khand” (“Million Dakinis”), the association of Buddhist women in Mongolia.

Read more . . .

In Between Moments Of Patriarchy . . . Something Special Happens

Buddhistdoor Global columnist Vanessa Sasson uncovers the powerful voices of the Buddhas wife, Yashodhara, and stepmother Mahapajapati in the story of his return to his kingdom. What do they have to say to us?

Read more . . .

Difficult Conversations: Mushim Patricia Ikeda

Buddhistdoor Global columnist Caitlin Dwyer and her guest confront some uncomfortable questions about injustice, sexism, and racism in the American Buddhist landscape.

Read more . . .

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