December 22 2016: A very important day in the history of Buddhist women. At Drepung Lachi Monastery in the South Indian town of Mundgod, His Holiness the 14th Dalai Lama hosted a ceremony to confer the prestigious Geshe title on 20 Nuns, including DGL’s respected teacher Tenzin Kunsel.
His Holiness the Dalai Lama’s website and Tibet.net report that His Holiness expressed the opinion that education has introduced a greater potential for equality and stressed the need for more female leadership in the world today.
“The tradition of honoring Geshema degree is a need of the hour as it is purely based on one’s meritorious achievement in the field of Buddhist study.”
Referring to past resistance towards awarding women such qualifications, His Holiness said:
“As I mentioned yesterday, there were some people who were not keen on our using the term Geshe-ma for this degree, but I’ve observed you debate, you’ve studied hard and achieved high standards. You’ve qualified for this degree. I congratulate you.”
Jetsunma Tenzin Palmo travelled to Mundgod to represent Dongyu Gatsal Ling Nunnery at the ceremony, which was also attended by members of the Central Tibetan Administration (CTA) including the Sikyong (Prime Minister of Tibet-in-Exile) Dr Lobsang Sangay.
The Sikyong said of the historic decision to award women the Geshe title:
“Our view on women’s empowerment is not borne out of competition between men and women. Our objective is to create the opportunity and capacity for women to showcase their potential based on merit.
Women’s leadership is taking prominence in the world. It is time for women to hold the mantle of leadership and this will ensure that the earth will be a more peaceful place on planet,”
(reported originally in the Tibet Post International).
Jetsunma said of the day “this historic occasion is a coming together to celebrate the joy and dedication of these amazing women, and their extraordinary contribution to the active role of women in the future of Buddhism”.
Later she reminded the DGL nuns that “it wasn’t so long ago that nuns couldn’t get an education at all, and now we have Geshe-ma’s! You should all be very proud.”
You can watch the ceremony as it happened here: