Sakyhadhita Spain, the largest international organization for Spanish-speaking Buddhist women in the world, will host its 2nd International Symposium of Spanish-Speaking Buddhist Women this month, titled “Dharma-Gaia: Buddhism, Women, and the Climate Crisis.” The discussions featuring English-speaking participants will be in English with optional Spanish translation.
The event, to be held 12 December from 4–8 p.m. Central European Standard Time, will take place on Zoom and will include Jetsunma Tenzin Palmo and Roshi Joan Halifax as guests of honor. Other guests will include Venerable Karma Lekshe Tsomo, the Kung Fu Nuns, Ven. Damcho Diana Finnegan, PhD, and Guelongma Lama Tsondru.
The theme of the conference, focusing on the climate crisis, highlights the important role that Buddhists and women can play in helping us to understand and confront this growing global emergency. Both guests of honor as well as the other speakers at the conference are known globally for their efforts to bring Buddhist thought to bear on contemporary social issues.
Jetsunma Tenzin Palmo is an ordained nun in the Drukpa lineage of the Kagyu school of Tibetan Buddhism. She has long advocated for equal rights for Buddhist nuns. Roshi Joan Halifax has taken on a number of roles and titles over the years: anthropologist, activist, hospice caregiver, author, Zen Buddhist teacher, and founder of the Upaya Zen Center in Santa Fe, New Mexico.
Karma Lekshe Tsomo is a co-founder of Sakyadhita and professor at the University of San Diego. She is a longtime advocate for women and girls, having founded the Janyang Foundation in 1985, which operates schools throughout the Himalayas. Ven. Damcho Diana Finnegan worked as a journalist in New York and Hong Kong before being ordained as a Buddhist nun. She subsequently earned a PhD with a thesis on gender and ethics in Buddhist narratives. In 2007, she co-founded the Dharmadatta Nuns’ Community of Spanish-speaking Buddhist nuns. Together they work on topics including gender and environmental justice as part of their spiritual practice.
The Kung Fu Nuns will talk about their campaigns for the environment and will give a kung fu exhibition for conference attendees. Hailing from the Drukpa lineage of Tibetan Buddhism and based in Nepal, the Kung Fu Nuns have been champions of both women’s empowerment and the environment in recent years, honored for their novel campaign of cycling through the Himalayas to raise awareness about human trafficking. Part of their efforts have been to show the connection between climate-related disasters, climate migration, and human trafficking.
When it comes to the harms of the climate crisis, Steve Trent, co-founder of the Environmental Justice Foundation, explains: “The poorest and most vulnerable will be hit first and worst. And among those, it’s nearly always women and children. Where you have environmental degradation and forced land clearance, you see migration toward urban city centers; there you see women who are incredibly vulnerable being coerced or forced into the sex trade, as they have no other means of survival.” (Dazed Digital)
The Sakyadhita International Association of Buddhist Women, the parent organization of Sakyadhita Spain, was formed in 1987. The word sakhyadhita means “daughters of the Buddha.”
Further details can be found at the Sakyadhita Spain website. Those who wish to attend the conference should email [email protected] for access via Zoom.
Jetsunma Tenzin Palmo’s biography (Tenzin Palmo)
Roshi Joan Halifax (Upaya Institute and Zen Center)
“Introducing Buddhism: Our View of the World and Our Place In It” with Venerable Damcho Diana Finnegan, PhD (Maitripa College)
Climate change and kung fu nuns: the fight for women’s safety in South Asia (Dazed Digital)