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International Women’s Day: Celebrating the Women of Buddhism

Nuns in Kham, Tibet. Photo © James Gritz
Nuns 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.

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