International Conference on Buddhist Women


International Conference on Buddhist Women

I have arrived in Indonesia for the International Conference on Buddhist Women, where I will be presenting my research on women’s leadership roles in Tibetan history. It’s a joy to meet with Buddhist women from all around the world, and I am bringing two of my female students with me.

14th Sakyadhita International Conference
June 23-30, 2015 — “Compassion & Social Justice” — Yogyakarta, Indonesia

You can read about my presentation and read the many other interesting presentations here:
• Pema Khandro Bridging the Lay-Monastic Divide: Women’s Religious Leadership in Tibet

Appreciating the history of Tibetan Buddhist women’s religious leadership requires an expanded paradigm beyond the lay-monastic divide that is generally applied to Buddhist communities. Among what is already a paucity of historical documentation on women in Tibetan history, the binary categorization of lay/monastic women further obscures the variety of roles of religious leadership women participated in and the power they exercised outside religious institutions.

Though there are few biographical materials about major female figures in Tibetan history, the narrative materials in compilations of Tibetan life stories that do exist reflect cultural frameworks and literary tropes that describe and proscribe a variety of women’s religious roles. Understanding the role of women in Tibetan religious history requires reconceiving the assumption that Buddhist leadership falls into one of two categories: lay or monastic. Biographical narratives name historical female figures in numerous types of religious occupations. Their stories as treasure revealers, nuns, yoginis, non-celibate teachers, incarnations, (Tibetan: sprul sku; sprul ba), oracles, patrons, doctors/healers, mothers, and consorts reflect a diverse female influence on Tibetan religious life.

Other Panel topics include:

  • Diversity & Multiculturalism
  • Trans-Buddhist Dialogue
  • Pioneering Indonesian Buddhist Women
  • Equality, Respect & Lay/Monastic Relations
  • The Buddhism of Borobudur
  • Feminism as Compassionate Activism
  • and many others!

You can read my presentation and the many other interesting presentations here.



Pema Khandro
Pema Khandro is a Tibetan Buddhist scholar, humanitarian, and teacher in the rare lineage of Tibet’s Buddhist Yogis. Raised in the west, ordained in the Nyingma lineage, enthroned as a tulku and trained as an academic, Pema Khandro presents both a traditional perspective and a modern voice. Read more at: https://www.pemakhandro.org/pema-khandro-extended-biography/
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