Accepted paper:

Narratives of Himalayan annies: In my next life I want to be reborn a man

Authors:

Swati Akshay Sachdeva (Sikkim University)
Winnie Bothe (Lund University)

Paper short abstract:

This research looks into how processes of traditionalizing Buddhism affects gender stigmatization within the monastic world in the Himalayan region. Concretely, it investigates the religious space for annies to take on a role as religious practitioners as well as position in the monastic hierarchy.

Paper long abstract:

Buddhism is often promulgated as an egalitarian and gender neutral religion by mainstream Buddhist scholars. It is commonly believed that gender divisions had little importance during the time of the Buddha, who was known to view women as equally important to religious practice as men. As such, during the time of its origin Buddhist culture and practices did not seem to relegate women to a religiously inferior status relative to men. However, what is found in everyday contemporary practise, is that Buddhism, like other religions, for instance Hinduism, also has strong patriarchal connotations. Gender hierarchies within Buddhism have a broader cultural impact upon the social attitudes of women. However, a feminist dialogue between members of Buddhist communities across the globe puts forward a new agenda. They encourage critical reflection upon the unequal and oppressive gender hierarchies within Buddhist tradition and also within Buddhist societies themselves. This dialogue in particular highlights how a traditionalised idea of Buddhism tends to place the annies in a position of inferiority. A review of the literature on Himalayan annies of Sikkim and Bhutan reveals that very little has been written on their role in monastic culture and their position in the monastic hierarchy. This research will look into how processes of traditionalizing Buddhism affects gender stigmatization within the monastic world in the himalayan region. Concretely, it investigates the religious space for annies to take on a role as religious practitioners as well as position in the monastic hierarchy.

panel P019
Women's empowerment, development and quality of life