Buddhist Pro-Woman Attitudes Towards Full Ordination: Tibetan and Himalayan Monastics’ Views





Buddhist nuns and monks, women’s monasticism, gender equality, feminism, Buddhist feminism, Tibetan Buddhism, Vinaya, full ordination (gelongma)


Since the 1980s, Tibetan religious leaders and Vinaya scholars have been examining the possibility of restoring the Buddhist ordination vow lineage for women (Tib. dge slong ma, gelongma) in India. These leaders and scholars focus primarily on canonical prescriptions and emphasize that this issue precludes questions of gender equality (pho mo ‘dra mnyam). However, little attention has been paid to the perspectives of Himalayan and Tibetan monastics outside of leadership positions. In order to understand how these Buddhist nuns and monks reconcile Vinaya prescriptions and gender equality, I interviewed and surveyed monastics residing in Bodh Gaya, India, between January 2018-March 2019. Their responses indicate a diversity of views about the relationship between restoring gelongma vows, Vinaya, and gender equality. And yet taken as a whole, they hold a view that is pro-woman but also accounts for gender asymmetries in ways that are sometimes at odds with a gender-justice and rights-based feminism. Their monastic version of feminism downplays social differences and instead emphasizes similarities between men and women’s practices as sites for ethical cultivation within the confines of celibate Buddhist monasticism.




How to Cite

Price-Wallace, Darcie. 2023. “Buddhist Pro-Woman Attitudes Towards Full Ordination: Tibetan and Himalayan Monastics’ Views”. Journal of Global Buddhism 24 (1):1-24. https://doi.org/10.26034/lu.jgb.2023.3140.



Research Articles