Tibetan Women Empowerment Conference: Dalai Lama lauds women's role in preserving Tibet's traditions Print E-mail
 Friday February 24, 2017

Meet to promote leadership qualities of Tibetan women

 His Holiness The Dalai Lama speaks to participants of the Tibetan Women's Empowerment Conference in McLeodganj on Thursday. (Tribune)

Tribune News Service

Dharamsala: A three-day Tibetan women empowerment conference concluded today at Gangchen Kyishong. It was the first time that such a conference has been organised under the aegis of the Central Tibetan Administration.

As many as 340 participants, including Tibetan nuns, women and men, from the Tibetan society in exile participated in the conference. The participants also met the Dalai Lama today.

Sikyong Lobsang Sangay while addressing the conference said the organisation of the conference was a step in the right direction to carry forward the shared vision of the Dalai Lama and the Central Tibetan Administration to promote leadership and compassionate qualities of women in social and political development of the Tibetan community.

He lauded Tibetan women's crucial role in safeguarding Tibet's unique and rich religious, linguistic and cultural traditions beginning from the non-violent Tibetan women's uprising against the repressive policies of the Chinese government on 12 March 1959.

Highlighting the consistent increase in representation of women in Tibetan administrative bodies, Sikyong said the vision of the conference was aimed beyond gender equality and on furthering women's role in all socio-economic and political activities.

Sikyong further said Charter for Tibetans in exile and CTA rules and regulations provide equal opportunity for men and women. Women parliamentarians were elected as early as 1964 when even some advanced economies still did not have women parliamentarians. In fact, today women constitute over 20 per cent of the elected representatives in the Tibetan parliament. Women now make up 45 per cent of the overall workforce of the Central Tibetan Administration (CTA). Forty-eight and 60 per cent of the staff of education and health departments, respectively, were women. Over half of all new and incoming CTA staff was women, he said.

As part of its commitment on women empowerment, the Tibetan political leader also announced that 12 March on every year would formally be observed as 'Women's Day'. The observance of Tibetan Women's Day on 12 March will reflect the collective will of the Tibetan leadership and people to accelerate women empowerment policy agenda.

The representatives of the Tibetan government in exile said the revised seven-point women empowerment policy was drafted by a committee composed almost entirely of senior women officials of the CTA and was adopted by the Kashag following due consultations and comprehensive deliberations with women from all walks of life.

The revised women empowerment policy outlines seven key points in its stated objective of making Tibetan women equal partners in all aspects of Tibetan society. The points include women and human rights, education, health, economy, governance and leadership, social, and sexual and gender-based violence. On sexual and gender-based violence, the Kashag has promised to adopt a zero tolerance policy. It further promised to sensitise community members on SGBV and establish a redressal mechanism for those who have experienced gender-based harassment and discrimination
~ Saturday February 25, 2017

Women make better leaders, says Dalai Lama

Tribune News Service

Dharamsala: If more countries are led by women, the world will probably be a more peaceful place. This was stated by the Dalai Lama while addressing the 300 delegates who came here to participate in the Tibetan women empowerment conference.

He said women were more sensitive to the sufferings of others in addition to great affection they provided as mothers. Human society had developed from a time when hunter gatherers simply shared what they had to the emergence of agriculture and a sense of property. This led to a need for leadership and since the criterion was largely physical strength, male dominance emerged. "Education has restored a degree of equality between men and women", he said.

Alluding to the position of women in Buddhism, the Dalai Lama said the Buddha had described men and women as having equal potential and had provided full ordination for both. He discussed the as-yet-unresolved difficulties in introducing or restoring the Bhikshuni tradition, but pointed out that a specific Vajrayana precept encourages respect for women in forbidding looking down on them. Further, in Tibet there was an established tradition for recognising female reincarnations such as Samding Dorje Phagmo, he said.

"We are all part of the 7 billion human beings alive today, but some of us are very well off, while elsewhere others are starving. I believe we can address this disparity if we work hard and develop self-confidence. That, in turn, depends on cultivating inner strength and the root of inner strength is developing compassion for others," he said

Noting that Tibetans have been in exile for almost 58 years, the Dalai Lama recalled meeting Indian leaders like Rajendra Prasad and Sarvepalli Radhakrishnan, who, in addition to being the President and the Vice-President of the country, respectively, impressed him with their scholarship. Listening to Radhakrishnan elegantly declaim verses from Nagarjuna and Chandrakirti in Sanskrit brought tears to my eyes, he said. However, he said that he also secretly suspected that he both understood and could explain better what the verses meant. He attributed this confidence to the rigorous training he had undertaken in Tibet, which was founded on the system originally established in the 8th century by Shantarakshita. This combined an exploration of philosophy with a strict command of reason and logic. This approach encourages investigating the topic in hand from different angles, something that can be useful in any branch of education.

The Dalai Lama mentioned how he had encouraged monasteries that traditionally focussed on rituals to introduce study and education. Similarly, he had encouraged nunneries to do the same. One result, he proudly declared, was the recent award of the first Geshe-ma degrees to 20 fully qualified nuns. Addressing the three Geshe-mas in the room, he advised that it was now their responsibility to teach in their nunneries and schools.

He touched on recent proposals for the Dalai Lama Institute for Higher Education in conjunction with the University of Mysore to offer PhD programmes for the laymn to study Buddhism and the inner science of the mind.